Stepfather sent to prison for shooting AirSoft gun at child
A jury found Stetson Tedder, 27, guilty of second-degree domestic violence assault of a child and unlawful imprisonment.
It did not find that he committed the crimes with “deliberate cruelty,” a legal consideration that could have increased his sentence.
Tedder was charged with hog-tying the girl with plastic zip ties and duct tape and shooting her with a toy gun that fires plastic BBs.
The girl was covered in dozens of welts, court papers said. She also had scars on her wrists and ankles, which medical experts believed came from being bound with ligatures.
Police found zip ties, including one in a garbage bag in the child's room, which “appeared to have numerous teeth marks that suggested the restraint had been chewed,” prosecutors wrote.
Deputy prosecutor Kathy Jo Blake asked the judge to impose the maximum under state sentencing guidelines: a term of four years and three months.
She listed several factors for a longer sentence. They included the defendant's lack of responsibility, lack of remorse, the victim's age and his position of trust.
“There are a number of different acceptable ways to discipline a child when they misbehave,” Blake wrote in her sentencing memorandum. “Taking aim and firing a high-velocity pellet from an AirSoft rifle in such a way that marks lasting for days are inflicted on the body of a 4-year-old child isn't one of them. Binding a child with zip ties so tight it hurts and leaving her restrained so long she needs to be cut free by her 8-year-old brother is cruel and criminal.”
Tedder did not make a comment before his sentencing.
The defense argued for a sentence toward the low end of the range: three years and five months.
“He has never been a problem to anybody before in his life,” the defendant's father, Steven Tedder, told the court.
Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Bowden opted for a sentence in the middle of the range. He handed down a prison term of three years and 10 months.
Bowden noted “the tender age of this victim” and Tedder's attempt to blame another child for the marks on the girl as reasons for a higher sentence.
“The reality is children don't come with operation manuals,” Bowden told Tedder.
At the same time, the judge noted, the defendant didn't have any criminal history, not even a traffic violation. He also served six years in the U.S. Air Force, including a stint in Iraq, before he received an honorable discharge.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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