EVERETT — The girl is doing better than doctors initially predicted but she likely will always suffer serious health problems because of the abuse she endured in the first weeks of her life.
The child, now 16 months old, came to the hospital in May 2013 with a fractured skull, broken ribs and bleeding and swelling in her brain.
Her teenage father, Tyler Washington, eventually admitted that, on more than one occasion, he shook his daughter and squeezed her out of frustration. He said he “just snapped” because the baby wouldn’t stop crying and fussing.
A Snohomish County Superior Court judge Monday sentenced Washington, now 20, to five years in prison.
“I do not believe his youth or his inexperience with children justifies his actions here,” Judge Linda Krese said.
If he couldn’t care for his daughter, the defendant had the responsibility to seek help, Krese said. He had the obligation to protect her. The judge called the abuse appalling.
“A 5-week-old baby is as vulnerable a victim as it could get,” the judge said.
She ordered Washington not to see or contact his daughter for a decade.
Krese was told that the girl has permanent brain damage that mainly affects the left side of her body. She has difficulty using her left arm and her left leg sometimes gives out. She continues to undergo therapy. The girl also suffers seizures, although fewer than when she was first hospitalized, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Elise Deschenes said.
“Because she is so young it is difficult to say what the long-term effects will be on her,” Deschenes said.
Washington declined to say anything before he was sentenced.
His mother, stepfather and four friends attended Monday’s hearing.
His attorney Jennifer Rancourt told Krese that her client’s actions last year were out of character. He was overwhelmed with fatherhood and was incapable of caring for an infant, Rancourt said.
“He is here to take responsibility,” she said.
Washington was arrested about a week after his daughter was rushed to the hospital. She was lethargic and had trouble breathing. Doctors became suspicious of the injuries and called state Child Protective Services and the Everett Police Department.
Washington told police several different stories. He later admitted he was responsible for hurting the baby. The defendant broke down in tears during his interview with police, saying he had an anger problem and was sorry for taking it out on his daughter.
Washington pleaded guilty in July to second-degree assault of a child. As part of his plea agreement, Washington acknowledged that his daughter was a particularly vulnerable victim. That admission meant Washington faced more time beyond the standard prison range, which is 2?½ to 3?½ years. Krese could have sentenced him to up to a decade in prison.
Deschenes agreed to the five-year term, citing Washington’s age and his lack of any prior criminal convictions.
Who to call
The Snohomish Health District offers various services for new parents. For more information, call 425-339-5200.
If you believe a child is being abused, call Child Protective Services at 866-363-4276.