Despite committing "the most shocking case" of child abuse that the judge had ever seen, dad BRYANT MENDENHALL will be sentenced to just 4 years and 9 months in prison. This is all this apparent psychopath got for cooly and deliberately crushing the skull of his 3-week-old son. He was apparently mad at the baby's mother. Grandma says he has "control issues." Ya think?
St. Paul father gets less than 5 years for crushing baby's skull
He admits crushing infant's skull after fight with wife
By Emily Gurnon
Updated: 08/26/2010 12:05:11 AM CDT
The judge called it "the most shocking case I have ever seen." A man took his 3-week-old baby's head in his hands and crushed it, even hearing a popping sound as the tiny bones broke. He swaddled the boy and handed him to his wife, saying nothing about what he had done.
The baby, now 6 months old, was left with "permanent neurological problems."
Ramsey County District Judge Judith Tilsen sentenced Bryant Mendenhall, 20, of St. Paul on Wednesday to four years and nine months in prison, saying she would have given him more time if the prosecution had asked for it.
Mendenhall pleaded guilty July 12 to felony malicious punishment of a child. The deal included an agreement that the prosecution would not seek a higher sentence than called for by state sentencing guidelines.
Prosecutor Laura Rosenthal told the court that when the baby was taken to Regions Hospital on Feb. 23 — two days after the injury — he was diagnosed with "numerous skull fractures and hematomas" (internal bleeding).
Not only did Mendenhall deny his actions, but he "went so far as to have implicated his wife" by taking her cell phone and sending text messages to his mother saying that she was involved, Rosenthal said.
Mendenhall's wife, Pamela, told the judge that she faces a hearing in family court today to determine whether her parental rights should be terminated.
Outside the courthouse, Pamela Mendenhall said she had nothing to do with the child's injury. "The child protection worker — she's been against me since day one," she said.
According to the criminal complaint:
Police were called to Regions Hospital on Feb. 23 on a report of possible child abuse. An officer met with the Mendenhalls. Pamela Mendenhall was crying. Bryant Mendenhall appeared restless, at one point standing on one leg and repeatedly losing his balance.
Pamela Mendenhall, 22, told police that she and her husband had met over the Internet a little more than a year earlier and that he had moved to Minnesota from his home in Missouri. She denied that there was any violence in the relationship. Her mother told police that Bryant Mendenhall had control issues and wouldn't let Pamela out of his sight.
When the couple was interviewed together, police noted that Bryant Mendenhall often interrupted his wife to answer questions.
Bryant Mendenhall denied to investigators that the baby had fallen, or that he had bumped the baby's head into something. He did say that he and his wife had been arguing and that she threatened to end the marriage.
His story changed over time, however. In later interviews, Mendenhall said that he lost his balance going down the stairs while holding the baby, but that the baby did not hit his head. He then said the baby's head hit the floor during the fall.
Doctors said the baby's injuries were not consistent with an accident.
Three months later, Mendenhall told police he had been angry with his wife over the argument they had. He said he took the baby to a cement washtub in the basement to give him a bath. During the bath, he squeezed the infant's head "with such force that he heard an audible popping sound and felt (his) skull bone squish in his hands," the complaint said.