Father gets 14 years in son’s death


Herald Writer

Two grandmothers stood up in a Snohomish County courtroom Thursday and asked for justice.

One begged the judge to remember Reed Delano, a 16-month-old boy who was murdered one year ago today. The other woman urged mercy for the killer, Jason M. Delano, 21, the father of the slain child.

Delano, a sailor from California who was stationed in Everett, in June pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the Dec. 8, 1999, abuse death of his son.

The boy died from a brain injury most likely caused when his head was slammed into something hard at the south Everett apartment Delano then shared with his now-estranged wife, according to court papers.

Justice demands punishment for the killer, Reed’s grandmother, Tina Glass, told Superior Court Judge Kenneth Cowsert.

"This baby couldn’t talk. This baby couldn’t say, ‘Help me.’ This baby couldn’t say anything," she said.

But Sandy Delano told the judge she knows her son loved his child and would not have intentionally taken his life.

"He’s a good boy with a good heart," she said.

Cowsert sentenced Jason Delano to 14 years in prison. The punishment was roughly two years longer than the sentence recommended under a plea agreement by attorneys on both sides of the case. It was four years shorter than the maximum punishment allowed under state sentencing guidelines.

Cowsert said the sentence was appropriate because he had been presented no evidence that Delano intentionally hurt his son, although there was no doubt about the result of his actions.

"I sincerely hope for every day of that 14 years and every day of the rest of your life" that you reflect on the toddler’s death, Cowsert told Delano.

Delano apologized "for all the people I’ve hurt."

His defense attorney, public defender Neal Friedman, told the judge that he had advised his client to plead guilty after prosecutors said they were considering increasing charges to homicide by abuse, which carries a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Delano entered an Alford plea, in which he maintains his innocence while conceding that there was enough evidence that a jury would likely convict him.

Doctors who examined the boy found evidence of healing injuries inside his head, which at least one expert said could have occurred during a time when the defendant was nowhere near his son, Friedman said. The defense had considered arguing the boy’s death was the result of one of those injuries.

Deputy prosecutor Paul Stern said the case presented an unusual legal conundrum because evidence of healing injuries could just as easily support a theory that the boy’s death was the final act of a pattern of abuse. If the defense had offered its theory at a trial, Stern said he would have sought to prove homicide by abuse.

Regardless, it was clear that Delano wasn’t truthful about his role in the child’s injuries, the prosecutor said. Delano had said the boy stopped breathing after he hit his head in a fall from a couch.

The boy had injuries to his head that caused his brain to bleed and swell, Stern said. "It was very clear from the beginning that he didn’t get them from falling off the couch."

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