For the second time in his life, Kenneth E. Galloway is going to prison for killing a little boy.
A judge on Monday gave Galloway the maximum 24-year sentence in the beating death of Devin Erb, the 22-month-old he was supposed to have been baby-sitting.
Sara Erb, 25, mother of the dead toddler, urged other women to check into their boyfriends’ pasts.
“If the man has a problem with it, he’s got something to hide,” Erb said.
Galloway, 28, of Spokane, had a previous manslaughter conviction in Pierce County in the death of his infant son. He served about four years in prison after pleading guilty in 1990.
He also pleaded guilty to assaulting his 6-month-old twin sons in 1989.
When Erb met Galloway he told her he had been in prison for assaulting two men, she said.
Erb returned home from softball practice on April 3 to find her only child unconscious on the bathroom floor. Empty pill bottles surrounded the body. Her live-in boyfriend was missing.
Erb also found two confusing notes, one signed “Ken.” Devin had fallen down the stairs, one note read. He had fallen out of his crib, another note said.
Deputy Prosecutor Dawn Cortez said it was the first time she had seen such a confused reaction in a child abuse case.
“Some (abusers) begin CPR. Some leave the child lying in bed and say they don’t know what happened. This was different. He must have panicked.”
The pill bottles misled paramedics who at first treated the boy for a potential overdose, Cortez said.
An autopsy later revealed Devin had been severely beaten. Bruises covered his body, including both sides of his head.
Two days after Devin’s death, police picked up Galloway walking along a road near Reardan. He had driven his sports car into a nearby ditch.
Before Monday’s sentencing, Galloway had entered an Alford plea, in which a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to win a conviction.
Galloway avoided eye contact with Erb as sheriff’s deputies led him into the courtroom in handcuffs.
He apologized to Erb in a statement read by his attorney.
“I’m truly sorry for the pain and anguish I have caused her,” he wrote. “If I didn’t panic Devin might still be with us today.”
Defense attorney Gary Hemingway did not argue with Cortez’s request of the maximum sentence.
But he pointed out a state Department of Corrections psychologist once recommended that Galloway not be allowed to be with children unsupervised and that corrections officials knew Galloway was living with Erb and her son.
Superior Court Judge Robert Austin called the crimes “incomprehensible” in light of Galloway’s normal psychological evaluations and no history of drug or alcohol abuse.
The judge granted Cortez’s requests that Galloway be barred from contact with minors for two years after his release and that he undergo anger-management counseling and any medical therapy prescribed to him.
The earliest Galloway could be out of prison would be in 20 years.
Devin Erb was a “personable and loving” boy “who welcomed new experiences, laughed and danced readily, and was discovering so much about his world,” said Marty Erb, the boy’s grandmother, in a written statement.
“We wondered last week, as we recalled a delightful visit with him to the fair last year, how he would have responded differently this year. What names and animal sounds would he have known? What music and snacks would have intrigued him?”
Sara Erb is pregnant again but not by Galloway. Her due date is April 3, the day before the anniversary of Devin’s death.