August 26, 1995 in City

Dad Sentenced In Infant Assault Judge Sentences Pelletier To 11 Years, 4 Months For Tossing Baby, Leaving Her Brain-Damaged

William Miller Staff writer

David Pelletier will spend the next 11 years in a prison cell, haunted by the memory of raising his 3-month-old daughter over his head and tossing her against a living room sofa.

The fussy newborn’s tiny body struck the sofa’s oak armrest, knocking her unconscious and causing brain damage.

“I’ll never be able to forgive myself for what I’ve done,” Pelletier said in a handwritten statement read aloud by his lawyer at Friday’s sentencing.

“I ask God to help me with some kind of miracle … so I can get my family back.”

The child’s mother, Tina Williams, was also in Spokane County Superior Court - demanding harsh punishment for her former fiance.

The child’s grandmother agreed. “He needs to pay for what he’s done,” she said.

Assistant Public Defender Kevin Curtis argued for leniency, saying Pelletier, 20, has no history of violence and poses no danger to the community.

Deputy Prosecutor Dawn Cortez said the child’s vulnerability and Pelletier’s abuse of trust justified an exceptional sentence.

Rejecting both arguments, Judge Robert Austin imposed an 11-year, 4-month sentence - the high end of the standard range for first-degree assault.

A jury convicted Pelletier on June 23.

The fast-food worker was home alone with his daughter the night of Dec. 7. He said he couldn’t get Courtney to stop crying and threw her at the sofa because he “had to take a break.”

Minutes later, Williams returned to the West Sharp apartment from a baby-sitting job. She found Pelletier in the bathroom trying to revive the limp, blue-faced baby.

Courtney was rushed to Sacred Heart Medical Center, where she remained in the pediatric intensive-care unit for three weeks. She suffered a major skull fracture, internal bleeding and numerous bruises.

Today, Courtney is a year old and just starting to sit up by herself. Her vision is poor and she suffers from seizures.

During the trial, Curtis argued that Pelletier didn’t know how to care for a newborn and never intended to harm his daughter.

In his sorrowful statement Friday, Pelletier spoke of the suffering caused by his moment of weakness.

“I wish I could take the pain away from them all,” he wrote, “but all I can do is apologize for my actions.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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