Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dad gets just 7 years for killing 3-month-old daughter (Norwalk, Connecticut)

Classic abuser daddy coddling. This father couldn't even keep his cover story straight.

Dad is identified as JUSTIN SMITH.

Norwalk man sentenced to 7 years in prison for shaking baby to death

Posted: Friday, September 26, 2014 1:31 pm | Updated: 1:54 pm, Fri Sep 26, 2014.

By STEVE KOBAK Hour Staff Writer

NORWALK — A city man was formally sentenced to seven years in prison Friday at Stamford Superior Court for shaking his 3-month-old infant daughter to death.

Justin Smith, 31, of 8 Highland Court, had accepted a plea deal in May after nearly taking his case to trial. He pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and risk of injury to a minor in exchange for a sentence of seven years in prison and five years of probation. He also has to perform 100 hours of community service for each year of his probation, undergo mental health and substance abuse treatment and attend parenting classes should he choose to father another child.

A first-degree assault charge was dropped in exchange for the plea.

Hugging and kissing family members before approaching the court, Smith did not exercise his right to speak at sentencing. His mother Suzanne Kipphut said her son is still mourning the loss of his daughter, who died in what she called a “terrible, terrible accident.”

Smith’s attorney Eugene Riccio said Smith’s family is still trying to heal after the child’s death and called the disposition “a fair sentence.”

“The death of an infant is an immeasurable tragedy,” he said.

Detectives from the Youth Bureau of the Norwalk Police Department began investigating the suspected child abuse case after being informed that Hailey had been admitted to Stamford Hospital with serious injuries on July 27, 2011, police said. Investigators soon learned that Hailey had also been admitted to the hospital July 2 with a skull fracture.

Smith told investigators, family members and friends that the family dog, a boxer weighing an estimated 80 to 100 pounds, had accidentally caused the July 2 skull fracture, police said. Smith claimed that the dog had been sleeping with him on the foldout couch bed, and Hailey had been sleeping on the floor on a nesting pillow for infants, police said.

He claimed the dog leapt off of the bed and landed on the baby's head, police said. Detectives interviewed Smith at his residence and noted that the family dog was "friendly and non-aggressive," according to the affidavit.

Smith initially told police that the child's second skull fracture happened after the child projectile vomited while Smith was feeding her, the affidavit states. He said he panicked and may have used too much force when he placed the child on the ground, according to police.

The child's mother, who has not been charged in connection with the case, reported that she was sleeping when the alleged incident occurred, and she was awoken by a loud "bang," according to the affidavit. Smith explained that he made the noise when he accidently kicked a piece of furniture, police said.

The accident occurred at 10 p.m. on July 26, but the child was not admitted to the hospital until 10:30 p.m. on July 27, court documents show. The child was finally taken to the hospital after a visitor held the child and noticed that the baby "kind of plopped against her chest," court documents show. The visitor influenced the child's mother to take the child to the hospital, police said.

As the investigation progressed and detectives probed Smith's story, they found several inconsistencies, and witnesses said that Smith had told them different stories to explain the child's injury, according to the affidavit. Smith also changed his story during follow-up interviews, telling investigators that the baby rolled off of his lap, police said.

One witness said that she saw Smith handle the child "in a rough manner," the affidavit alleges.

Several witnesses told police that Smith was a frequent cocaine user, and at least one witness said that Smith may have been under the influence on the night that the child's skull was fractured, police said. Detectives found out that Smith "acts wild" when under the influence of cocaine, and he did not handle the infant carefully, police said.

Smith also allegedly made incriminating statements while at the hospital, investigators learned.

While Smith was in the hospital, a security guard reported that Smith was crying uncontrollably, and he told the security guard that his child "had brain damage and it was all his fault," the affidavit alleges.

A DCF investigator told detectives that after being informed of Hailey's death, Smith allegedly "kept mumbling, 'Please come back and tell them we didn't do this to you," according to court documents.

Hailey's death was ruled a homicide on Nov. 8, 2011, and the medical examiner said that the baby's death was not caused by a fall, court documents show. In addition to the two skull fractures, the child had hemorrhaging along her spinal column consistent with being shaken, according to State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo, who prosecuted the case.

“Throughout my years as a prosecutor, I’ve handled many of these cases,” Colangelo previously told The Hour. “The injuries that (Smith’s daughter) Haley had could only have come from intentional abuse, based on the examination and review of medical literature. It’s unfortunate that this tragedy happened. The best thing a parent can do when they’re frustrated with their young infant is to put the baby in a crib and walk away.”

Smith was arrested on Nov. 18, 2011 after Detective Michael Murray obtained a warrant for his arrest.