SALT LAKE CITY — Calling the 2019 killing of a nearly 5-month-old girl “horrific,” a Utah judge sentenced her teenage babysitter Monday to a secure detention facility for the child’s death.
Third District Juvenile Judge Mark May sustained an allegation of child abuse homicide against the teenager in the death of little Adalyn Monson, following a trial that spanned months.
May sentenced the now 18-year-old sitter Monday, telling him that “what you did was horrific. You caused the death of a 4-month-old baby.”
On May 10, 2019, Adalyn was taken off of life support after sustaining critical injuries three days earlier. When her parents picked her up from the sitter’s West Valley house on May 7, the teen, a distant family member, was holding the unresponsive child, according to court documents. An autopsy indicated the baby died of severe brain trauma and had a bruise on her head.
The teen told officers he had tossed the girl into the air — something he did “all the time over and over again” — before she lost consciousness, in part because she was crying and would not take a bottle, prosecutors alleged. He watched the child as community service, he told police, part of his sentence in a prior drug possession case.
In prepared statements read aloud in court, the girl’s parents said they’ll never get to hold her again or watch her grow up.
Donna Dearth said her daughter’s death has left her deeply depressed. When her young son, 2 years old at the time his sister died, has questioned “why” and “what happened,” Dearth said she has responded that the girl is with God. Dearth said she fights emotion each time as she describes to the boy how his little sister will always be watching over him.
“She should be here with him and living her life,” Dearth wrote in the statement read aloud.
Jonathan Monson said his daughter had such personality. And while the babysitter’s family can visit him in detention, Monson said, “we will never get that opportunity again to hold Adalyn, to hear her voice.”
Prosecutor Steven Grayson said evaluations found the teenager struggles with anger and frustration, finding he has a moderate to high risk of being violent in the future.
The teenager faces a separate allegation of rape in juvenile court, although no details about the case were released Monday. The Deseret News is opting not to name him at this time.
Grayson argued for secure detention, saying the sentence is needed to keep the public safe. The teenager has failed to take responsibility and continues to deny the allegations, he added.
The teenager, who wore a mask for the sentencing hearing held over video, didn’t oppose the sentence.
“I feel like secure is the best route for me,” he told the judge. “I feel like I can get more help there.”
Defense attorney Sam Pappas said the detention center has “probably been the most supportive and stable environment” that his client has lived in.
The judge noted it’s up to Utah’s Juvenile Justice Services to determine how long the teenager stays in the secure facility. The agency can retain custody of a youth up until age 21.