Dad WILLIAM TATE JR. has been sentenced to 30 years to life in the sexual assault and murder of his 3-month-old daughter. What the hell more can you say about a creature like this?
Dad gets 30 to life in daughter's killing
Larry Hertz • Poughkeepsie Journal • June 26, 2010
A shattered family watched in Dutchess County Court as a father was sent to prison for sexually assaulting and murdering his 3-month-old daughter.
As the baby's mother, Robin Petty Tate, sobbed in her mother's arms in the gallery of the courtroom, 29-year-old William Tate Jr., his arms shackled at his sides, stared straight ahead as County Court Judge Thomas J. Dolan sentenced him to 30 years to life behind bars.
Wassaic man admits sex abuse, murder of infant daughter
"Your job as a father was to love and protect this child," Dolan told William Tate Jr. "Nobody has words to describe what you have done."
The judge then paused and pointed a finger at the defendant.
"When you go to sleep every night in prison, I want you to remember that little girl, what she was and what she could have been," he said.
Dolan then sentenced William Tate Jr. to 25 years to life, the maximum allowed by law for second-degree murder, and an additional five years on a charge of aggravated sexual abuse. The sentence means he will not be eligible for parole until at least 2040.
William Tate Jr. entered guilty pleas to the two crimes June 17. He acknowledged he had caused the death of his daughter, Reese Tate, by sexually abusing her and inflicting head injuries. The baby was fatally injured at the family's home on Willow Lane in Wassaic on the night of Feb. 3. She was pronounced dead early on Feb. 4 at Sharon (Conn.) Hospital.
William Tate Jr.'s eyes blinked several times as he watched his wife walk unsteadily to the front of the third-floor courtroom of the county courthouse to address the court.
Robin Tate sobbed between sentences as she read a two-page, typewritten statement, but she gathered herself and continued, looking directly at her husband several times.
She told him Oct. 20, 2009 — "the day my beautiful Reesie Doll came into my life" — had been the happiest day of her life.
"I remember the words I spoke when they first laid her on my belly: 'She's beautiful. I'm so glad we didn't have an ugly baby,' " she said, causing many in the courtroom to smile.
"Now I wake up each morning and realize I can never again go into her room to wake her. The pain in my heart is limitless," she said. "Reese was my world and now she is my angel."
Glancing again at her husband, she continued: "How, if there is a God or higher power, how could they let something like this happen to my innocent child? I try to take comfort in the fact that God has a plan and if in fact there is a God, may he have no mercy on William's soul."
William Tate Jr., dressed in a white T-shirt and blue jeans, looked at Dolan as he spoke about what he had done.
"Your honor," he said, "the day my daughter was born, when I first held her, I told her that I wouldn't let anything happen to her. My heart is broken that I am the reason she is gone. I will never be able to forgive myself, nor should I, for the pain I have caused my extended family — my wife, her parents, her brother ... I can't describe how sorry I am.
"I loved my daughter very much and would do anything to take her place," he said.
Earlier in the proceedings, William Tate Jr.'s mother-in-law and father-in-law, Carmen and Bruce Petty, tried to read prepared statements but both began to cry uncontrollably within a few minutes. The rest of their statements were read by Senior Assistant District Attorney Marjorie Smith, who prosecuted the case.
"Billy, you may have to spend a long stretch of your life in prison, and God knows you deserve to," Bruce Petty told his son-in-law before he began to cry. "But believe me that while you are being sentenced today, some of us, your family and friends, have already had a life sentence imposed on us. Because of your cowardly act of selfishness, Robin, my baby girl, is sentenced to life without her baby girl."
Carmen Petty was able to read only one paragraph of her statement before she sobbed and fell into Smith's arms.
"I've lost interest in just about everything I used to enjoy, like gardening," she said. "Now the only gardening things I do have to do with my beautiful granddaughter, Reese, her memorial garden at home."
Then the one-page statement she was holding shook as she began to sob.
"When I think of what Billy did, I can't understand it," she said, then handed the statement to Smith and walked back to her seat in the first row of the courtroom gallery.
Smith, who called the case the most horrific she had ever handled in nearly 30 years as a prosecutor, said it was particularly baffling because William Tate Jr. had no history of doing anything wrong.
"He comes from what appears to be a good and decent intact nuclear family. ... His school and work records are those of a normal person. … The complete lack of behavioral indicators makes this situation even more disturbing," the prosecutor said.
Smith said she had been distressed to read comments from anonymous people on news blogs "who would blame Robin for contributing to her daughter's death."
"In the most clear and unequivocal language I can use, I can tell the court and anyone else who cares to listen that the thorough investigation has uncovered not a shred or iota of proof or evidence that Robin has been other than a good and decent mother who loved her daughter Reese more than life itself," the prosecutor said.