CROWN POINT | In a case that has dragged out in court for more than 4 1/2 years, a Hammond man was sentenced Friday for failure to seek prompt medical attention for his then-7-month-old child.
Donald Tarry, 43, pleaded guilty to the C felony charge in a plea agreement reached with Lake County prosecutors to reduce his original B felony charge for neglect of a dependent.
The case revolved around severe injuries his child suffered in what medical personnel diagnosed as “shaken baby syndrome” in January 2010.
On Friday, Lake Criminal Judge Salvador Vasquez sentenced Tarry to 18 months in the Department of Correction, which is half the sentence Lake County prosecutors asked for in the plea agreement.
The plea agreement that reduced the original charges stemmed from Tarry’s failure to seek immediate medical attention for the child despite such injuries as fractured ribs, bleeding on the brain called subdural hematomas and bilateral retinal damage.
Tarry was originally released on bail with a no-contact order from Vasquez on Dec. 19, but was taken back into custody on Dec. 23 when Porter County officials were notified the man was in contact with his girlfriend, her children and the child who was injured.
Tarry’s original sentencing hearing of Jan. 28 had to be reset because Lake County government offices were closed due to inclement weather.
During Friday’s sentencing hearing that lasted more than 1 1/2 hours, Tarry’s father, John W. Tarry, of Merrillville, spoke on his son’s behalf.
“He has a high work ethic. He loves his children and is a family man,” the elder Tarry said. “Until the last 4 1/2 years, alcohol hadn’t been a problem.”
John Tarry cited numerous stressing factors in his son’s life, including job losses and other criminal charges, which led him to drink heavily.
Donald Tarry broke into tears when talking about a recent visit from his older child at the Lake County Jail and also asked Vasquez for leniency during his statement.
Defense attorney Edward Page portrayed Donald Tarry as a man falsely accused of crimes that wrecked his life and who further ruined his life with drinking. Page cited the defense’s own expert witnesses who said the child didn’t suffer from shaken baby syndrome, but was dropped, possibly by a sibling.
However, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Catherine Breitweiser-Hurst said Donald Tarry is “a very manipulative character. He was the last adult to be with (the child) … He is extremely controlling.”
Hammond Police Det. Mark Biller testified during the hearing that he had investigated the case. Based on that investigation and the child’s medical records, Biller said Tarry is responsible for the crime.
In deciding the sentence, Vasquez noted the severe injuries suffered by the child “could have affected the child’s life if not survivable.”
Three other felony counts, including neglect of a child and battery, were dismissed.