BANGOR, Maine — A local man was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison with all but 4½ years suspended for manslaughter in the death of his 3-month-old son on Nov. 25, 2012.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson on Jan. 29 found Dustin Brown, 22, of Bangor guilty of the crime following a jury-waived trial held last year. Anderson found that Brown was criminally negligent in caring for his son, Xander Brown.
Anderson on Friday denied a defense request that Brown remain free on bail pending an appeal of his conviction to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The judge ordered Brown to begin serving his sentence immediately. He was taken into custody at the courthouse. He faces four years of probation when he gets out of prison.
The judge said he denied post-conviction bail, in part because Brown and his girlfriend, who is not Xander’s mother, are having a baby within the next few months.
Conditions of Brown’s probation include that he undergo counseling, take parenting classes and have no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 12. How that would affect Brown’s ability to spend time with his child after his release was not clear Friday.
Assistant Attorney General Deb Cashman recommended a sentence of 12 years with all but six years suspended and four years of probation.
Defense attorney Marvin Glazier of Bangor urged the judge to impose a sentence of eight years in prison with all but two years suspended and four years of probation.
Cashman and Glazier declined to comment on the case after the sentencing.
The baby’s mother, Alainia Cain Stacy, now 19, of Bangor was not able to attend Friday’s sentencing but she submitted a written statement read by a victim witness advocate for the attorney general’s office. She said that because Xander was born prematurely on Aug. 22, 2012, she spent many hours in the neonatal unit at Eastern Maine Medical Center until he was able to be released.
“Before we were able to take Xander home, Dustin and I had to watch the purple crying video,” she wrote. “It was a video about colic and how to handle it when your child is being colicky and you can’t calm them down. It said multiple times in the video, if you get frustrated, it’s OK to set your child down and walk away and cool down for a few minutes.
“So, I can’t understand why Dustin could do what he did, after having the knowledge and the education to prevent this exact thing, and yet it still happened,” Stacy wrote. “When this first happened, I couldn’t fathom that it was anything more than a medical issue. My mother and I sat down and for a few days we were researching and trying to find some explanation and I couldn’t find one. How could someone take the life of such a perfect, precious baby boy?”
Stacy, who is now married and has a 1-year-old son, said that her firstborn lives on in her heart.
“I love him still and miss him every day of my life. I just thought you needed to know that Xander still holds a spot in my heart and I know that no matter the time that Dustin may or may not serve will never bring my son back, but it’ll protect another parent from having to go through what I had to go through. I wouldn’t wish the pain I went through on anyone.”
Brown did not address the court Friday but wrote a statement that was read by Glazier, in which he said he would never intentionally hurt his son.
“Alainia and I suffered a terrible tragedy that neither of us will ever recover from,” he said in the written statement.
At his trial, Brown did not take the stand in his own defense and expressed little emotion. That changed Friday when he began weeping as Xander’s mother’s statement was read.
Experts for the prosecution during the trial said the baby died of bleeding and tearing in his brain, an injury most likely caused by violent shaking. A defense expert said he died of cardiac arrest after choking on formula.
Brown told police he was alone and feeding his son when the baby suddenly went limp. The infant’s mother testified Brown told her he had been feeding Xander, and when he went to burp him, Xander’s head struck his chin.
Brown faced up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.