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Judge orders prison time for Sandy man who drugged girlfriend's baby

Gene Richins, 32, of Sandy, was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison Friday for drugging his girlfriend's 8-month-old daughter with Trazadone. Under the influence of the drug, the baby rolled over and suffocated in her crib, He pleaded guilty to child a
Gene Richins, 32, of Sandy, was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison Friday for drugging his girlfriend's 8-month-old daughter with Trazadone. Under the influence of the drug, the baby rolled over and suffocated in her crib, He pleaded guilty to child abuse homicide, a second-degree felony.
Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office

SALT LAKE CITY — A Sandy man who pleaded guilty to drugging his girlfriend's 8-month-old baby, causing her to suffocate in her sleep, was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison Friday.

Gene Richins, 32, dropped his head and wept as the baby's father addressed the judge, detailing experiences he will never have with his daughter.

"I will never be able to put artwork of hers on the fridge," said Mitchell Sanders, baby Kyla's father.

Her first tooth. Christmas morning. Scraped elbows on the playground.

"We will never experience the joy and happiness that she would have brought into our lives," said Sanders, who asked that Richins be required to serve time in prison.

The child's mother, Amanda Faulkner, and even prosecutors recommended a more lenient sentence that would have included extensive counseling and probation for Richins.

"In my opinion I think treatment and help to ease the pain and suffering we have all gone through in the last 18 months is the best way to honor her memory," an emotional Faulkner said, speaking of the pain and bitterness she has endured since her daughter's death.

The chains holding his wrists jangling as he accepted a tissue, Richins spoke briefly before the sentence was handed down, telling the judge he loved Kyla as if she were his own daughter.

"I didn't try to hurt her. As stupid as it sounds I was trying to help her, and I know I will live with that for the rest of my life," Richins said.

Weighing the child's young age as well as the theft and burglary charges filed against Richins following her death, 3rd District Court Judge Vernice Trease sentenced Richins to one to 15 years in prison. Richins pleaded guilty in December to a reduced second-degree felony charge of child abuse homicide.

"Why we are putting someone on probation who has killed an 8-month-old baby?" Trease asked. "There are some cases in my opinion where, no matter what you have done, there is a retribution and punishment that society demands, and I think the death of an 8-month-old child is one of those."

"I think prison is appropriate in this case," Trease said, adding that the parole board may opt to release him earlier.

Richins was charged seven months after Faulkner's 8-month-old baby was found dead on Aug. 9, 2013 after Richins gave the little girl Trazadone, an antidepressant. Under the influence of the drug, the baby rolled over and suffocated in her crib, according to a medical examiner's report.

Richins was caring for the baby, as well as his own infant daughter, after his girlfriend took medication and went to sleep.

Richins told police he got up about 11:30 p.m. when Kyla was crying, feeding her a bottle and giving her some of his own daughter's prescription Tylenol using a baby oral syringe, then wrapped her in a blanket and laid her back in the playpen. Evidence of both Tylenol and Trazadone was found in the girl's body and in an oral syringe at the home.

Following the autopsy, but before toxicology results were available, Richins "suggested without prompting from detectives that it was possible that (the infant) got her hands on one of her mother's Trazadone (pills)," charging documents state.

Faulkner told police at the time that she kept her prescription medications on top of the refrigerator, far from the reach of the 8-month-old baby.

Richins was also charged last February with theft, burglary and other charge after he allegedly broke into a Sandy jewelry store through the ceiling, but then couldn't escape because of a security door. Police say he attempted to get out by trying to break through the shatter-proof glass door with a fire extinguisher, but failed.

Richins also pleaded guilty in 2009 to assault against a police officer, a class A misdemeanor; assault on a health care provider, a class B misdemeanor; interfering with a legal arrest, a class B misdemeanor; and intoxication, a class C misdemeanor.

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