A 24-year-old Mabelvale man responsible for inflicting skull-shattering injuries on his girlfriend's infant daughter was sentenced to 10 years in prison Tuesday, three weeks after he testified that he'd accidentally fallen on the girl.
Henry Sebastian Gadsden Jr., accompanied by his parents, did not testify at the sentencing hearing before Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza.
"I just want to apologize for my stupidity and lies," Gadsden wrote in a letter to the judge. "What happened was an honest accident. Yes, the way I went about it caused me to be guilty."
The judge found Gadsden guilty of first-degree battery in a non-jury trial last month, determining that the defendant had deliberately hurt the baby. Prison was mandatory, and 10 years was the minimal sentence available.
Defense attorney Danny Williams called on the judge to apply "as much leniency as possible" to his client, who has no previous criminal convictions. Sentencing guidelines recommend a 20-year term for a defendant who has committed this type of crime and has no criminal history. Gadsden will appeal, Williams told the judge.
Deputy prosecutor Robbie Jones asked the judge to follow the longer sentence recommendation, citing medical testimony at trial about the severe amount of force -- comparable to a car crash -- necessary to inflict skull fractures on both sides of the girl's head.
Ryleigh Green, who had been born two months premature, was 82 days old in March 2017 when she was injured while Gadsden was baby-sitting her and his 21-month-old daughter, Raevan Gadsden.
Gadsden's lawyer told the judge that the defendant's trial testimony was the most reasonable explanation of how the baby was injured.
Gadsden said he was carrying the baby into the kitchen to get her a bottle when his daughter playfully grabbed his leg, causing him to lose his balance. He told the judge he dropped Ryleigh and that one of his hands came down on the baby's head as he tried to break his fall.
Gadsden said that even though he has seven children, he was overwhelmed by having to care for two children that young.
But Gadsden's trial testimony amounted to the fourth or fifth story he'd told about how the baby was hurt. He admitted on the witness stand that he had lied to police, doctors and the baby's mother about what happened to the infant.
He had claimed that the little girl rolled off a bed, had been kicked in the head by his daughter and had fallen off a kitchen counter while he was trying to photograph both girls together to post on Facebook.
Gadsden was dating Ryleigh's mother, 20-year-old Jimmia Green. The two have since had a child together.
Green testified at trial that she was at school when Gadsden asked her to come home because her baby was possibly sick. She said she believed the injuries were an accident.
Ryleigh's injuries came to the attention of Little Rock police through a mysterious phone call to the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
The unit receptionist testified that a woman had called asking to speak to a doctor or nurse about her injured daughter. The woman did not give her name but said her boyfriend had kicked the baby.
The caller identified the infant as Ryleigh Green and was able to tell the receptionist when the child had been in the neonatal unit. The receptionist said the call ended before she could find a nurse to talk to the woman.
Green told the judge that she had called the unit for advice because doctors there had cared for her daughter when the baby was born prematurely. But she said she never told anyone that her boyfriend had kicked the girl.
Green took the baby to the UAMS emergency room, where the infant was released after being looked at by doctors.
The call to the neonatal unit was reported to authorities, who went to Green's home the morning after the emergency room exam and had Green take her daughter for an examination by child abuse specialists at Arkansas Children's Hospital.
Dr. Rachel Clingenpeel told the judge that she discovered a finger-width-size skull fracture across the left side of the baby's head with a smaller fracture on the right side. The amount of force required to do that kind of damage would be intensely painful for the child and could not go unnoticed by any caretaker, Clingenpeel testified.
The baby is now in the custody of Green's family, which is hopeful that she will not suffer any long-term effects from the injuries. She was never taken to court.
Metro on 03/07/2018
Print Headline: Mom's beau gets 10 years for infant's skull injuries