A Layton man was sentenced to up to five years in prison and ordered to pay $97,000 in restitution for medical costs Tuesday in 2nd District Court for injuries he inflicted on his stepdaughter last fall.
Scott E. Palmer, 34, 1145 W. 16th North, pleaded guilty March 21 to child abuse, a third-degree felony, and was sentenced Tuesday by Judge Douglas L Cornaby.Prosecutor Carvel Harward said Palmer picked up his 2-year-old stepdaughter by the neck last Nov. 8, shook and spanked her and tossed her across a room onto a couch, which caused her to stop breathing.
But defense attorney John Hutchinson told the court Palmer admits throwing her onto a couch but said she struck her head and fell face forward, which caused her breathing to be hampered.
The girl suffered irreparable brain damage, according to an Adult Probation and Parole report, and is barely able to breathe on her own. She is being fed through a stomach tube.
Her medical care at Primary Children's Medical Center and continued maintenance care account for the $97,000 restitution the judge ordered, although he acknowledged there is little chance Palmer will ever pay it.
Palmer was initially charged with second-degree felony child abuse, which carries a prison term of one to 15 years. But he pleaded guilty to a reduced child abuse charge, which carries a prison term of zero to five years.
Hutchinson said the reduced count, which charges reckless rather than intentional behavior, more closely fits what happened during the incident.
In sentencing Palmer, the judge agreed the act was more reckless than intentional but said it followed what the probation and parole department determined was a period of abuse of the child by Palmer, based on jealousy. The child was not fed or cared for adequately and received little love or attention, the judge said, other than strict discipline.
The judge said the report notes Palmer's wife is expecting another child and he said he fears for its care and safety also, with Palmer's violent tendencies.