PRINCETON — The father of a 3-month-old Patoka boy was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the death of his son, then punched in the face by the baby's uncle in a surprise attack in the second-floor main hallway of the Gibson County Courthouse as he left the Gibson Superior Court hearing Wednesday morning.
Gibson County Sheriff Tim Bottoms, deputies and corrections officers separated Kwin T. Boes from his assailant, Jeremiah "Matt" Hartley, and took Hartley into custody (see related story).
Boes, 23, accepted a “charge bargain” agreement last month that dismissed two Level 1 felony charges against him in exchange for pleading guilty to a Level 2 felony charge of domestic battery resulting in the death of his son.
Boes was originally charged with a Level 1 felony count of aggravated battery and level 1 felony count of neglect of a dependent resulting in death. Each of those two charges would have carried a potential sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison with an advisory sentence of 30 years.
The Level 2 felony count to which he pleaded guilty carries a potential sentencing range of 10 to 30 years, with an advisory sentence of 171/2 years. Gibson Superior Court Judge Robert Krieg sentenced Boes to 19 years in prison followed by a year of home detention and five more years of probation. He will receive credit for time served since his arrest May 14, 2018. Upon release, he is ordered to make restitution for his son's funeral expenses.
His son Parker, who died at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis from blunt force head trauma.
No one chose to testify at Wednesday's hearing, but Gibson County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Abigail Cox read victim impact statements submitted by the baby's mother and grandmother.
Grandmother Lisa Hartley wrote about "how much pain you put him through..." noting that Boes did not visit his son in the hospital, and letting the judge know that the family could not designate the infant as an organ donor due to the autopsy necessary to investigate the case.
"You shouldn't be allowed children for the rest of your life," she wrote.
Jamie Hartley wrote that she had fears of being a target for writing a victim impact statement regarding her son's death. "There never really is closure," she wrote.
Cox asked the judge to consider Boes' presentencing evaluation as a high risk to re-offend, his prior criminal history, the age of the victim and Boes' position of care of the victim as aggravating factors for more jail time.
She said medical records and testimony also support consideration of aggravating factor of shaken baby syndrome. "The aggravating factors far outweigh the mitigating factors," she told the judge.
Court-appointed defense attorney Daniel Moon told the judge there was no finding of shaken baby syndrome, and argued that sentencing is for reformation, and not for vindictive justice.
Moon and co-counsel Roman Ricker said Boes accepted responsibility by pleading guilty, and asked the judge for a portion of the sentence to be served as probation.
Boes did not offer any statement.
The judge told the Hartley family that he can only impose a sentence within the guidelines set by the state legislature. "Legally speaking, this is not murder," he acknowledged. "Nor, is it a Level 1 felony. So I can't sentence him by those standards. I can't do anything to ease your pain or suffering. I cannot replace the child."
He told Boes that while admitting to the crime is a substantial mitigating factor, "you put yourself in this position," and reviewed a juvenile record that including time in boys school.
Judge Krieg said the age of the victim is an aggravating factor in the crime, noting the infant was "completely defenseless, completely helpless."
In addition to the jail time and order to make restitution, the judge said Boes' conviction for domestic violence prohibits him from possessing a firearm.