Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dad pleads "no contest" to strangulation of 3-month-old daughter (Bay City, Michigan)

Dad is identified as GARRETT D. GWIZDALA.

Bay City father pleads 'no contest' to child abuse, strangulation charges involving his baby daughter

By Cole Waterman on December 01, 2014 at 3:20 PM, updated December 01, 2014 at 3:55 PM

BAY CITY, MI — A Bay City father is staring down at least 15 years in prison after accepting a plea deal in the abuse of his own infant daughter.

Garrett D. Gwizdala, 25, on Tuesday, Nov. 25, appeared in Bay County Circuit Court and pleaded no contest to single counts of first-degree child abuse and assault by strangulation. The former is a life offense, while the latter is a 10-year felony.

In exchange for his pleas, the prosecution agreed to dismiss one count of second-degree child abuse.

A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but is treated as such for the purposes of sentencing. Circuit Judge Harry P. Gill had to rely on police reports and other documents to enter convictions on the record.

As part of his plea deal, Gwizdala is to be sentenced to a minimum 15 years in prison, court records show.

Gwizdala's trial was to begin Tuesday, Dec. 2.

His charges stem from an incident that occurred at his residence in the 3400 block of North Euclid Avenue the afternoon of Wednesday, June 25. According to police, Gwizdala called 911 at 5:32 p.m., requesting medical attention for his 3-month-old daughter, who was not breathing.

A Bay County Sheriff's deputy also responded to the house. Gwizdala initially said he was lying on a couch with the baby on his chest, and that the child fell off and landed face-down on the floor, Undersheriff Troy Cunningham previously said.

"He later made admissions to what really happened, and we learned his original story was completely false," Cunningham said, adding the child's mother was not home at the time of the alleged incident.

Cunningham said Gwizdala told detectives he knowingly hurt the child. Gwizdala told detectives he obstructed the child's breathing and was upset because she wouldn't stop crying, Cunningham said.

The baby was taken via ambulance to McLaren Bay Region hospital and later transferred to Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw for further treatment. Cunningham said the baby had injuries that indicated prior abuse.

Gill is to sentence Gwizdala at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 26.