Remorse moves judge to reduce sentence
A Central Point father's deep remorse for causing brain damage to his infant son prompted a Jackson County judge to ease up on his sentence.
Shane William Hendry, 29, sobbed openly as he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of second-degree assault Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court, admitting he'd thrown his child on a bed and on a sofa in anger on two separate January incidents, causing brain damage that ultimately required hospitalization at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland.
"You're emotional because you truly believe you hurt your family," Judge Tim Barnack said before reducing Hendry's sentence from five years in prison to jail and probation.
Wearing his green jail uniform, Hendry apologized to the court and the family members who surrounded his wife, the child's mother. Hendry wept as he said "it hurts" that he can't do anything to fix the harm he'd caused to his infant son.
"I know that it's a really horrible situation and I'm so sorry," Hendry said.
Barnack sat quietly for several minutes as he looked over the case paperwork and the 60-month prison sentence to which both prosecutors and court-appointed defense attorney Andrew Vandergaw had agreed.
Barnack asked about the boy's current condition. The mother said her son is doing "really well," and that the child isn't showing any signs of additional developmental delays. The child's head has healed from the trauma.
Deputy District Attorney Zori Cook said the child had shown "significant neurological issues" such as eyes crossing without un-crossing and stunted head growth. A scan later showed brain injuries from two separate incidents on Jan. 8 and 30. At Doernbecher, fluid was removed to reduce brain swelling. Hendry admitted his crimes to law enforcement and cooperated, Cook said, and Hendry has been lodged in the Jackson County Jail since Feb. 12.
Barnack disagreed with the plea agreement's stipulation that "malicious intent" was involved. After learning neither parent had graduated high school, he called Cook and Vandergaw to his chambers. Following deliberations that lasted half an hour, Barnack reduced Hendry's sentence to 60 days in the Jackson County Jail without credit for the time he'd served since Feb. 12, and five years' supervised probation. Hendry has been transferred to the Jackson County Work Center in Talent, according to jail records.
"This was my call, really," Barnack said in court.
Terms of Hendry's probation include mandatory anger management, child support if he and his wife divorce and no contact with any minors, including his children, until authorized by his probation officer. If Hendry fails to comply in any way, he will serve the 60-month prison sentence.
Hendry's parents and family were ordered not to contact the child's mother or their grandchildren until the probation officer approves. Barnack snapped at Hendry's father for shaking his head in disagreement. Barnack threatened to revert to the DA's recommendation at the behavior.
"You give me an inch and he's going up north," Barnack told him.
After releasing Hendry's family from the courtroom, Barnack turned his attention to Hendry, encouraging him to make the most of his opportunity.
"You were cut a huge break today," Barnack said.
Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.