Parents of ‘tortured’ baby sent to prison
Nevada Appeal News Service
MINDEN – The parents of an infant brought to a hospital emergency room with multiple fractures, burns and bruises were sentenced Tuesday to prison for what the judge described “a pattern of torture.”
The baby, now in the custody of foster parents, was 5 months old when his Gardnerville Ranchos parents brought him to Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center on July 11 because they said he had a rash.
An emergency room doctor said the infant had fractures of his skull, ribs, and arms, and burns on his buttocks and the heels and bottoms of his feet.
His ears and face also were bruised.
The physician said the fractures were in stages of healing and could be one week to one month old, according to court documents.
Jeremy Taylor, 28, and Marie Youmans, 27, each pleaded guilty to attempted child abuse or neglect causing substantial bodily harm.
On Tuesday, District Judge Dave Gamble sentenced Taylor to eight years in prison with a minimum of 38 months before he is eligible for parole.
“Your lawyer said you loved your son. I don’t get that. This child would have been safer had he been raised by coyotes,” Gamble said.
Youmans was sentenced to 48 months with a minimum of 19 months before she is eligible for parole.
The parents were given credit for 122 days in custody.
“This was a pattern of torture,” Gamble told Taylor. “The last time I saw injuries of this severity in a child, her father was sentenced to death for her murder. You ought to be thanking God for the miracle that your son is alive. You’re not some guy sitting in the courtroom angry at someone for doing this to your child. You’re the guy who did it.”
Attorney Derrick Lopez said that against his advice, Taylor admitted causing many of the injuries to his son, including broken ribs and burns by placing the baby in hot bath water, but attributed the skull fracture to Youmans.
He claimed Youmans said she tripped over a fan and the baby’s head hit the fan and the wall.
“Between these two, this baby had old bruises, new bruises, old fractures, new fractures, old burns, new burns,” Gamble said. “This wasn’t a mistake. This was a pattern of conduct.”
“Do you have any idea how hard it is to break a baby’s rib? To break a baby’s clavicle? At that age, their bones are like Gumby,” the judge said.
Lopez said his client wanted to clear his conscience and “be honest before the court and God.”
Because the parents were often intoxicated and there were no witnesses, Lopez said it was impossible to know who was responsible for individual injuries.
He said Taylor had motivation to change because he wants to eventually have a relationship with his son.
“Whatever the court does, it’s his (Taylor’s) goal to become a better person and make amends to his son, maybe after he’s 18,” Lopez said.
The fact that Taylor’s now 10-month-old son was doing better with a foster family than his own parents was “heart-wrenching,” Lopez said. “He’s prepared in his mind to make amends. It doesn’t right the wrong but maybe will make up for it some way.”
Taylor said he loved his wife and son and never tried to intimidate her or stop her from seeking medical help.
“I apologize to all and acknowledge how I hurt my son. I ask him to forgive me as God and myself have already done,” Taylor said. “He’s doing great with his foster parents. I wish I was there. I am sad and angry at myself. I needed a harsh reality to see what alcohol abuse does in so many ways.”
The baby also was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome.
“That child suffered numerous injuries,” said Laurie Trotter who prosecuted Youmans. “He had a fractured skull, ribs and clavicle consistent with nonaccidental trauma. He had fetal alcohol syndrome, bruising and abrasions. He was diagnosed with failure to thrive, malnutrition. This child was tortured over time. This defenseless child had no one to help him.
“Ms. Youmans failed to protect her defenseless newborn child. This child was abused before and after birth. She failed to obtain medical attention. She failed to act.”
Trotter relayed one incident where a witness saw Youmans drop the baby about 18 inches into a playpen and walk away without checking on him.
When questioned by the judge, Youmans said she couldn’t remember.
“That’s pretty handy,” Gamble said.
Her lawyer, Kris Brown, said Youmans was drinking heavily.
“In the beginning I was in denial about (the baby), the state of his injuries,” Youmans said. “I wrapped my relationship about Jeremy. I apologize to my family and to (the baby) for all the pain. He didn’t deserve any of this. I want to be a mother to him.”
Gamble said in child abuse cases often there is differentiation between parents as to who is more culpable.
“But you can’t just get drunk and avoid responsibility,” he told Youmans. “For a mother to this extent to ignore and fail to react is the same to me as the abuse.”
The judge said in sentencing he often feels that it’s in the child’s best interest to work toward reunifying the family, but not in this case.
“This is a horrible set of injuries to this child. If this had happened one time, out of stupidity, but I do not see that. I see blame shifting. The very idea this tiny boy had old healing callouses on his fractures, the opportunity for you to rear this child is anathema to me,” Gamble said.