Dad TROY DEAN shook his 4-month-old baby so violently that the child must be fed through a feeding tube and requires daily physical therapy. But this caretaker dad's not going to prison, no sir. He's just going to do supervised probation, partly because he's not a poor teenager and lives in a "good neighborhood." Who says there's not different standards for the poor and the middle class in American courts?
No prison for dad who injured infant son
By SOPHIA VORAVONG • firstname.lastname@example.org • October 8, 2009
Thomas "Tommy" Dean was four months old when he was violently shaken by his father. The infant suffered head injuries that required emergency brain surgery in April 2008.
Now 22 months, the former Lafayette boy still must be fed through a feeding tube, his father, Troy Dean, told Judge Randy Williams of Tippecanoe Superior Court 1.
Tommy's injuries will likely be long-term. But Troy Dean, 38, and his wife, Amy, urged Williams to not punish their children by sending him to prison.
"I think that Troy beats himself up for hurting Tommy," Amy Dean said during her husband's sentencing hearing this afternoon. "That is punishment enough."
Williams partially agreed. He sentenced Troy Dean to six years on supervised probation for Troy Dean's guilty plea to neglect of a dependent, a Class C felony.
Troy Dean also must complete 312 hours of community service and live with his parents in Grand Rapids, Mich., for two years. The Dean family moved there about a year ago.
But before handing down the sentence, Williams commented on how calm and collected Troy Dean appeared during his testimony.
"The lack of emotion ... it was so matter of fact on the stand," Williams told Troy Dean. "Your description of how this happened, it just floors me."
Tommy's injury occurred sometime between April 12 and April 13, 2008, at the family's former home on Cajun Court in Lafayette. Troy and Amy Dean worked opposite, 12-hour shifts.
Troy Dean was their two children's primary caregiver during those overnight hours. He admitted during a September guilty plea hearing to shaking Tommy "out of frustration and sleep deprivation."
Today, Troy Dean explained how his parents are now able to help. He said Tommy receives physical therapy daily. His attorney, Brett Gibson, said Troy Dean's wife and children would lose health insurance coverage if Troy Dean was sentenced to prison.
Both Gibson and Williams noted that the Deans regained custody of their children just six weeks after a Child in Need of Special Services case began in Superior Court 3, the county's juvenile court.
Gibson said the custody decision was unanimous among Judge Loretta Rush, caseworkers with the Department of Child Services and others involved.
Troy Dean had faced between two and eight years incarceration. Deputy Prosecutor Laura Zeman argued that Dean serve some portion of his sentence on community corrections.
She said Troy Dean, a former employee at Eli Lilly who lived in a "good neighborhood," should be treated no different than a teenage father or a baby sitter who purposely injures a child.
"If this was a 18-year-old who lives at Country View ... we wouldn't have a courtroom like this," Zeman said. "It seems like he wants to get a father of the year award."
About 20 people in support of Troy Dean, including family, friends and former coworkers, attended today's hearing.