Walter A. Brown said he was sorry his 3-month-old daughter was injured last summer when her mother, Amanda Cozart, fell on the baby during an argument between the parents.
But both Judge Richard Mitchell and State’s Attorney Chris Reif said they don’t believe the account Brown gave during his sentencing Tuesday and it shows his lack of taking responsibility for severely injuring the child when he battered her a year ago.
Mitchell sentenced Brown to 12 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections — a sentence Reif offered in exchange for Brown agreeing to proceed with a stipulated bench trial in May.
The judge found the 41-year-old Jacksonville man guilty of one count of felony aggravated battery of a child after reviewing evidence submitted in a 12-page stipulation of facts.
Brown read a statement in which he recounted how the baby was accidentally injured June 24, 2010, while he was arguing with Cozart at the North Clay Avenue home of his ex-wife, April Dawne Brown.
Walter Brown accused Cozart of hitting him during an argument over Cozart wanting him to skip his child-parenting class that night. When he pushed Cozart, she fell on the baby. He ran out of the house not knowing his daughter, Amelia, had been injured until he talked to his daughter, Brittinni Brown, 18, later that night, he said.
The aggravated battery of a child charge was Walter Brown’s third felony conviction. His two prior felony convictions were for aggravated battery in 1989 in Cook County and unlawful delivery of cannabis in 1996 in Morgan County. He also had five misdemeanor and 14 traffic convictions.
Peoria doctor Channing Petrak was prepared to testify injuries to the child’s brain were significant and included a lack of oxygen event, bleeding and skull fractures consistent with “abusive head trauma,” according to the stipulation of facts. The baby had bruising over a large portion of her scalp and forehead, around her eyes, along the nasal bridge near the ears and on the pallet. She also suffered posterior rib fractures the doctor said are rarely seen in infants because of an accidental cause and are highly specific for abuse.
“The mother and father did not get along,” Kesinger said. “It was a very tumultuous relationship.”
Walter Brown was arrested July 25 after Shannon County, Mo., deputies spotted him camping in a wooded area near Eminence, Mo.
Cozart, 27, has denied her daughter’s injuries were accidental. She described the manner in which Walter Brown picked up the child “similar as to how an individual would be grabbing a chicken by the legs.”
Cozart, who is facing charges similar to those filed against Walter Brown, was prepared to testify that he “picked Amelia up by her legs and swung her around, hitting her head on the playpen and then threw Amelia into the playpen,” a court document said.
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Cozart also was going to testify “as to ... times when she would personally observe the defendant blowing cannabis smoke into Amelia’s face,” the document said