Man gets 25-40 years for killing infant son
Story Discussion By LORI PILGER / Lincoln Journal Star
Posted: Thursday, April 1, 2010 12:17 pm
Sebastian Duffek was just 41 days old when he died at his father's hands.
In a third-floor courtroom in Lincoln Thursday, a district judge sent Christopher Duffek to prison for 25 to 40 years for it, saying that his mental health issues, though there are many, didn't explain "the brutality that was exacted on Sebastian."
Judge Jodi Nelson said there was no other way to describe the events of early Dec. 26, 2008, other than to say they were profoundly tragic.
"It is profoundly tragic," she repeated.
Police say Sebastian's mother, Josie Trine, called 911 at 7:21 a.m. to say her child was having trouble breathing.
The officer who responded to the call from an apartment at 2620 K St. started CPR, but it was too late for the boy, who had bruises on his neck and shoulders, according to court records. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Duffek told police he held his son by the neck and shook him, he hit him once on the chest with his fist, and that the boy's head may have hit his knee, too. An autopsy showed the boy had a skull fracture and bleeding on his brain.
Duffek waited for about an hour after Sebastian stopped breathing before he woke up Trine.
He told police he knew it was wrong and that he shouldn't have done it.
In January, Duffek pleaded no contest to attempted second-degree murder for what he did.
In court Thursday, the 23-year-old turned down a chance to say something before the judge sentenced him.
His attorney, Jeff Pickens, said the state had been involved with the family and even had suggested something bad may happen.
Both parents were dealing with mental health issues.
"It's clear that the system failed Christopher, Sebastian and Josie," he said.
Pickens submitted hundreds of pages of Duffek's mental health records and said there should be no dispute he has serious issues.
He said he thought Duffek would regress and languish if given a lengthy prison sentence, where he may not get the mental health care he needs.
Duffek really needs to be somewhere like the Lincoln Regional Center, where he's been up to his sentencing, he said. But that wasn't an option for Nelson.
Pickens said Bruce Prenda, the Deputy County Attorney, could have filed a developmentally disabled custody petition to hold him indefinitely in a safe, secure environment where there would be no risk of him harming anyone. Prenda wouldn't. So Pickens asked Nelson to consider a 90-day evaluation at the Department of Correctional Services, to see what they could do for Duffek there.
But Prenda took issue with the defense arguing that the emphasis should be on Duffek and his problems.
"The state argues the emphasis should be placed on the crime itself," he said.
Prenda said on Dec. 26, 2008, Sebastian died. He was just 41 days old and defenseless.
"And he died at the hands of his father," he said.
He asked Nelson to consider the statements and interviews that day, the 911 call and the severity of Sebastian's injuries.
He asked her not to lose sight of the meaningfulness of his brief life and the significant impact his death has had on the Trine family.
"Mr. Duffek was unquestionably and directly responsible for the death of his son," Prenda said.
Then Nelson sentenced Duffek to 25 to 40 years and gave him credit for 462 days he's served. She said anything less than prison would depreciate the seriousness of this tragic crime.
In the end, the Trine family watched as Duffek got up, turned around and walked to the secured door to the jail.
Reach Lori Pilger at 473-7237 or email@example.com.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Dad gets 25-40 years for killing newborn son (Lincoln, Nebraska)