BANGOR, Maine — The father of a toddler injured last year when the man who was baby-sitting the child put the boy in a dryer and turned it on emotionally criticized a plea deal Friday that called for Adam Morton to spend just two years in prison.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson agreed and continued the sentencing, according to the prosecutor.
The plea agreement called for a sentence of eight years with all but two years suspended followed by three years of probation.
Anderson continued Morton’s sentencing at the Penobscot Judicial Center so the defendant can decide whether he will serve more time in prison or withdraw his guilty plea to an aggravated assault charge and go to trial, Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, said after the continuance was granted.
A new court date has not been set.
Under Maine law, a defendant may withdraw guilty pleas and go to trial when a judge rejects a plea agreement.
Roberts declined to say how much time the judge wanted Morton to serve before he would accept the deal.
Defense attorney Aaron Frey of Bangor left the courthouse without speaking with reporters.
Michael Sousa, the boy’s father, said outside the courthouse that Morton should have been charged with attempted murder, a more serious crime. He also said that two years was not enough time behind bars.
Sousa of Bangor also said that his son has recovered fully.
“He is happy, he’s talking, he’s running around,” Sousa said of the boy, now 3. “He is back on the fast track, and he is climbing, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve justice.”
Morton, 28, of Berlin, New Hampshire, pleaded guilty in January to one count of aggravated assault.
By pleading guilty, he admitted that on Aug. 2 he put the boy in the dryer and turned it on. Morton told Bangor police Detective Tim Shaw that the dryer made just one revolution before Morton removed the boy from the dryer.
The boy suffered second-degree burns to his back and arms with a distinct pattern that matched the drum of the dryer, had blisters on his feet, bruises all over his body and cuts that matched bolts on the inside of the appliance, according to court documents.
Police seized the dryer and through testing determined it could reach temperatures of up to 180 degrees in just three minutes.
The maximum sentence for the Class B crime is 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. The maximum sentence for attempted murder is 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
Morton, who was dating the boy’s mother, was arrested Aug. 28 in New Hampshire and extradited to Maine. He was released from the Penobscot County Jail on Sept. 19 and remains free on $2,500 cash bail, according to a previously published report.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.
BDN writer Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this report.