Dad is identified as RICHARD LEE GILLIS III. To hear the father tell it, we once again have a case of Clumsy Daddy Syndrome.
January 7, 2012 at 1:00 am
Wixom father pleads no contest in death of 4-month-old son,
By Mike Martindale
The Detroit News1Comments
Pontiac — A 23-year-old Wixom man pleaded no contest Friday to reduced charges in the June 10 death of his 4-month-old son, who died from injuries suffered when he was tossed in the air, according to investigators.
Richard Lee Gillis III faces between 15 to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 31 by Oakland Circuit Judge Shalina Kumar.
Gillis pleaded no contest to charges of second-degree murder and second-degree child abuse in the death of his son, Richard Lee Gillis IV.
Besides being spared a trial, the plea also might have saved Gillis from spending the rest of his life behind bars. He had been charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse.
After Gillis told Kumar he understood and voluntarily agreed to the plea, Kumar approved it and set sentencing for Jan. 31.
"He has no criminal history and an honorable discharge from the service," said Gillis's attorney, Mitchell Ribitwer. "The child had a history of illness, and Gillis said he was only trying to calm him down from crying when the injuries accidentally occurred."
Ribitwer said there is no way to predict whether a jury would have convicted Gillis of a life felony or even a lesser charge of manslaughter.
"He will have to spend at least 15 years in prison before he has a chance of parole," said Ribitwer. "That's hard time, but he's only 23 years old."
The baby was injured June 10 at a home in the 2300 block of Evergreen in the Stratford Villa Trailer Court. He stopped breathing and was taken to a local hospital. Initially, Gillis reported he was changing the baby's diaper when the baby rolled off a changing station to the floor.
When Oakland County Sheriff's detectives questioned the extreme injuries — a skull fracture and hematomas to the brain — Gillis changed his story.
According to court transcripts, Gillis said the baby had become "fussy" after getting his medicine and "so he was trying to soothe the baby by throwing the baby, tossing the baby, up in the air and catching him." Instead they "butted heads" and the baby became even more upset. Gillis said he then swung the baby from side to side when the baby's head struck the side of a coffee table.