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Olathe man takes plea deal in baby's death

A 26-year-old Olathe man accused of killing his baby took a plea agreement April 2, 2012 to avoid the possibility of spending 20 years in prison.

The man pleaded no contest to reckless second-degree murder. A Johnson County District Court judge found him guilty and scheduled the man's sentencing hearing for May 14, 2012.

The man's infant son died in January 2011 and Johnson County prosecutors filed first-degree felony murder charges against him. At a preliminary hearing in July 2011, the baby's mother told the court that the man confessed to her that he had shaken the baby "a little." According to the woman, the man told her the baby would not stop crying and he became frustrated.

According to court records, the baby had head trauma that was consistent with shaken baby syndrome. The child was only three weeks old when he died. The doctor who performed the autopsy on the baby also believes the boy was thrown after he was shaken.

The 26-year-old man was scheduled to go to trial April 2, 2012, but opted for the plea deal instead. If a jury had convicted him of first-degree felony murder, he would have faced a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison with no eligibility of parole.

In accordance with the plea agreement, the Johnson County Assistant District Attorney assigned to the case and the man's defense attorney will both recommend that the judge sentence the man to 10 years in prison. The judge is expected to give the man credit for the number of days he has spent in the Johnson County jail since his arrest.

The Olathe man will also be eligible for early parole if he exhibits good behavior while in prison. Kansas state law allows him to earn up to 15 percent off the original sentence.

After the man's plea of no contest, his defense attorney told reporters that expert medical witnesses would have testified that the state's medical experts were incorrect in their findings. However, the man did not want to risk spending 20 years in prison.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "Olathe man admits killing infant," Tony Rizzo, April 2, 2012

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