Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dad going to prison for head butting 4-month-old son (Columbus, Nebraska)

Dad JEREMY HETRICK thought he as getting a plea deal, then got nailed with prison time anyway. Another case where a (useless) father was babysitting while Mom was working.

Dad going to prison for head butting son
August 20, 2013 8:00 am • By Jim Osborn

COLUMBUS -- A 25-year-old Columbus father who admitted head butting his 4-month-old son multiple times last January couldn't have been surprised when a district court judge sent him to a prison cell.

Platte County District Court Judge Robert Steinke sentenced Jeremy Hetrick to six to 10 years in prison for attempted child abuse in connection with the Jan. 22 beating so severe that the child stopped breathing and suffered brain and retinal bleeding.

Steinke had warned Hetrick numerous times last month when the defendant pleaded no contest to the reduced charge that he would not be bound by the terms of a plea deal in the case.

"The plea agreement is in no way binding on the court at sentencing,'' Steinke said last month. "I'm going to do what the court deems fair and reasonable regardless of any plea agreement."

Hetrick was initially charged with child abuse, a Class II felony punishable by a maximum of 50 years imprisonment and a minimum of one year imprisonment. Attempted child abuse is a Class III felony and carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

In exchange for Hetrick's plea to the reduced charge, the Platte County Attorney's Office agreed to recommend probation at sentencing.

Financial considerations, the defendant's responsibility for ongoing child support and medical insurance for the child, were a motivation for the mother agreeing to the plea deal, County Attorney Carl Hart said last month.

Hetrick was charged in connection with the incident at a 27th Street apartment the defendant shared with the child’s mother.

The boy, who is not being identified to protect his and his mother’s identities, was treated at Columbus Community Hospital before being transferred to Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha.

The prosecution said the child's injuries were consistent with abusive head trauma, resulting in him being placed on a respirator and spending several days in "great distress" at the Omaha hospital before returning home.

Hetrick was home alone the afternoon of the incident caring for his son while the boy’s mother was at work.

Court documents in the case described an incident in which Columbus Police and rescue personnel responded to a 911 emergency call from Hetrick at 5:24 p.m. Jan. 22 reporting that his son had stopped breathing.

Officer Logan Bronson was among the first to arrive at the scene and performed "chest compressions" to revive the child because he couldn’t feel the victim’s pulse, according to an affidavit filed by Capt. Bret Strecker in the case.

The officer reported the child seemed to be having trouble breathing and gasped for breaths intermittently, Strecker said in his statement. The boy was then taken to the hospital emergency room.

Strecker said hospital medical personnel reported the child suffered “subdural hematomas” in the front and back and on both the right and left sides of his head.

“There was no skull fracture, just bleeding on the brain. He also had bleeding into the whites and retinas of his eyes,’’ Strecker said the emergency room doctor reported.

Strecker said the doctor also reported the child had three healed rib fractures that occurred at least six weeks prior to the Jan. 22 incident.

In a later interview with the defendant, Strecker said Hetrick admitted he lost his patience when his son became fussy that night. The defendant said he “squeezed” the boy between his arm and side to get him to stop fussing, the captain said.

“He (Hetrick) said he became frustrated and then head butted (the boy) ‘very hard,’’’ Strecker said. The defendant said he saw the boy’s head going back and forth from front to back but did not remember shaking him, the captain said.