An Edgewood man accused of causing a traumatic brain injury to his 2-month-old son in 2016 pleaded guilty Tuesday to a lesser charge as part of a deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to serve up to nine years in prison.
The judge suspended three years of Brandon Greene’s sentence. After receiving credit for nearly three years he spent on electronic monitoring or house arrest awaiting resolution of the case, Greene, 27, will enter the state prison system with just over three years left on his sentence. If he earns day-for-day credit for good behavior while incarcerated, he could be released in under two years.
“It’s not the justice we wanted, but at least he’s behind bars,” Kiersty Winters, the mother of the now 3-year-old boy, said following the hearing.
As part of the deal, Greene pleaded guilty to attempted child abuse resulting in great bodily harm. Prosecutor Mary Carmack-Altwies told state District Judge T. Glenn Ellington she didn’t like the deal — which called for Greene to serve no fewer than five years and no more than seven years — calling the “attempted” charge a “misnomer.”
But she said she agreed to settle for the second-degree felony — a step down from the original charge of first-degree felony child abuse resulting in great bodily harm — because of issues with the medical evidence. She said she was “hamstrung” by the fact that doctors and brain scans couldn’t definitively pinpoint the cause of the infant’s injuries or say for sure the child’s brain injuries would have been less severe if Greene had not let more than an hour elapse after the baby was injured before obtaining medical attention for the infant.
“The state very much wanted to go forward” to trial, she said. “But it seemed like it was too big of a risk.”
Greene did not speak in court Tuesday.
According to a probable cause statement, Greene told officers he had been alone with his son that day and walked away from the changing table to dispose of a soiled diaper and returned to find his son not breathing.
Greene gave the infant one rescue breath, the statement said, then noticed a gurgling sound coming from the child’s chest. When he tried to clear the child’s airway, a white fluid came out of the infant’s mouth and he began to breathe again, the statement says. However, when he tried to lay the boy down, the child began to tremble “as if he were having a seizure.”
Greene said the child’s mother was out and he didn’t have a phone. When she came home, they called the child’s grandmother at her beauty salon in Edgewood, who told the young couple to call 911, authorities said.
But they brought the baby to her salon first, and more than an hour passed before the child received medical care.
A social worker from the hospital’s Child Abuse Response Team later told investigators that the child had brain hemorrhages, retinal hemorrhages and “multiple inadequately explained bruises to his body.”
According to the sheriff’s office report, Greene initially denied that the baby had suffered any falls or shaking. But he later said the child had been “fussy,” and when he lifted him out of his bassinet, he dropped the child.
Greene also admitted to “shaking” the baby “in an effort to control his discomfort,” according to the report.
But Greene’s attorney, Marcus Lucero, intimated Tuesday that Greene had not intentionally harmed his son but may have accidentally dropped him, calling what happened “a tragic series of errors” committed by both parents.
Ellington seemed to agree that both parents were culpable for what happened, saying “the parents were ultimately responsible in this case — parents plural.”
But the judge said the state decided to charge Greene.
Ellington told Greene that in deciding his sentence he had “taken into account the fact that you have taken responsibility, whether or not a jury would believe it was an accident or a deliberate act followed by negligence.”
A spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office said following the hearing that prosecutors “considered charging the mother and after extensive review determined that we could not prove the mother’s culpability beyond a reasonable doubt, and that it would be ethically improper to pursue charges. During the period of time when we believe the child suffered the injuries, we could put the father alone with the child but could not put the child in the mother’s sole care.”