Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dad gets 5 years for assaulting 3-month-old daughter (Sioux Falls, South Dakota)

This is not the first time dad JOHN JAY HILT has assaulted an infant or child either.

Sioux Falls father gets 5 years in prison for child abuse

He will be eligible for parole in two years

May 24, 2013

Written by John Hult

A Sioux Falls man who lost his wife, children, job and home since being charged with child abuse against his infant daughter was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday.

John Jay Hilt, 34, said those losses and the 437 days he’s had to think about them at the Minnehaha County Jail have changed his understanding of his crime and himself.

“I’m embarrassed, I’m sorry, I’m ashamed of what I’ve done,” Hilt said.

Hilt submitted a lengthy letter to Judge Brad Zell before Thursday’s hearing, which helped convince Zell he had “genuine remorse” for his behavior.

“It’s too bad you weren’t so concerned a year or two ago,” Zell said.

The judge said Hilt’s daughter was lucky because she was expected to make a full recovery.

Hilt was charged with child abuse in 2006 for an assault on his eldest child, but apparently improved for a time before the most recent incident.

“I’m not saying that 24/7, 365 days a year, you were abusive,” Zell said. “I don’t think the evidence shows that. But there were times when you were, and in those moments with your children, you were very dangerous.”

Hilt had been using synthetic marijuana in the hours leading up to his 3-month-old daughter’s collapse on March 2, 2012. He called 911 and was guided through the process of resuscitating the infant before she was admitted to Sanford Hospital for bleeding on the brain.

The child fell from a changing table a few days before the call. Hilt admitted, however, that he had been rough with the child, saying he’d been stressed out and frustrated.

He initially was charged with aggravated assault and felony child abuse. He almost took the case to trial, disputing the extent of the injuries his actions had caused. Hilt pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of child abuse April 2.

His lawyer, Mike Miller of the Minnehaha County Public Defender’s Office, told Judge Zell that his client’s perspective had changed markedly since he first arrived in jail. The loss of his wife of 10 years, the reality that the state is seeking to permanently terminate his parental rights and the loss of his job and home were all factors in that, Miller said.

“This has been a rock bottom point for him,” Miller said. “He’s lost literally everything that he had.”

Zell gave Hilt a 10-year sentence with five suspended and credit for time served. Hilt would be eligible for parole in just under two years.