A man who pleaded for probation after admitting to killing his 14-month-old son got no mercy from the judge at his sentencing six months ago. Now the state Board of Pardons and Parole gives him no mercy either.
Eric Duff will serve every day of his zero-to-five-year prison sentence, the board decided Tuesday. Duff was originally charged with murder in the death of his son, Eaon. But prosecutors allowed Duff to plead guilty to the lesser crime of child-abuse homicide, a third-degree felony, after his wife said she didn't see her husband ram a rubber ball into the mouth of their only child.Duff admitted he was frustrated with Eaon because he kept putting the ball in his mouth. At his parole hearing on Aug. 15, he said he felt he was "wrong" in taking the ball from the child and decided to give it back to him.
Police alleged that Duff shoved the ball into the boy's mouth forcibly, causing the boy to choke on it. Duff said he put the ball in Eaon's mouth - but not in anger.
"I never touched that child with a harmful hand," Duff said. He did admit using "a little excessive force" when he put the ball in the child's mouth.
Paramedics were only able to remove the toy from the child's throat with forceps. The child was revived but died a short time later at Primary Children's Medical Center. A state medical examiner said the ball could only have been lodged where it was - and as securely as it was - with help from an outside force.
At his hearing, Duff admitted he had trouble with both alcohol and anger.
"Sometimes I feel that I have a hard time controlling my temper. It's not just regarding children . . . I do have an anger problem," Duff said. The night Eaon died, Duff admitted drinking three or four beers, but maintains he wasn't drunk.
Duff also discussed other incidents of child abuse involving the children of a former girlfriend. He said he put "mild" sauce in the mouth of a 2-year-old child because the toddler was playing with his stereo. He also admitted tying a shoelace around the neck of a 3-year-old girl but says he didn't drag her around the house as reports indicated.
"She fell and that's what caused the lacerations," Duff said. At the end of his hearing, Duff said he originally denied putting the ball in Eaon's mouth when questioned by police because he was in shock.
"I didn't want to believe what had happened to my son Eaon," he said. "I feel really bad to this day because I did the wrong thing, because it did take his life, but my intentions were not to take his life."