FARMINGTON A man who fatally shook his infant son was sentenced to up to five years in prison Tuesday amid sobs from relatives and supporters in the courtroom.
Brad Richard Crook, 30, pleaded guilty to third-degree felony child abuse homicide as part of a plea bargain that reduced the charge from a second-degree felony. He admitted he was guilty of shaking his son, Kayden, who was 40 days old.
Prosecutor Rick Westmoreland told the court that Kayden had been taken to a hospital on April 10, 2007, because the child was not breathing. Three days later, life support was disconnected and the child died.
Westmoreland said the baby died of head trauma consistent with the symptoms of shaken baby syndrome. Crook admitted he had shaken Kayden before taking the baby to the hospital, the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Gil Athay said he did not want to minimize what had happened, but expressed disappointment that a pre-sentence report prepared by Adult Probation and Parole had recommended prison.
Athay said that the incident occurred as a result of a brief "moment of frustration" on Crook's part, and people who know Crook are shocked that this could have happened. Athay urged the judge to consider alternatives to a prison term.
Crook tearfully apologized to his family. "I'm sorry for what I did and for what I put you guys through," he said.
Crook asked the judge to consider "what type of man I really am" when deciding on a sentence. "I loved Kayden with all my heart."
Second District Judge Rodney Page said such cases were difficult for the court. On one hand, any parent knows "there is a part in all of us where we are within a hair's breadth of doing something we will be very sorry about."
But generally, people step back at that point and refrain from doing something they should not.
Page also said society understands the high standards to which parents are held, and, as a judge, Page said his job is to be a representative of society and render judgment under those standards.
The judge said if he had to deal only with Crook, things would be easy, because the judge said he has no doubt that Crook is truly remorseful for what he did and would never do it again.
"But that's not where my responsibility stops," Page said, citing his additional obligations to victims and society as a whole.
The most aggravating factor in the case was that the infant was so helpless and dependent on his father for safety."You, as you well know, violated that trust," Page said.