WATERBURY — Alexandra Valentine said Wednesday she would never intentionally hurt her son Jaden, an infant who was hospitalized last year with what authorities believed were injuries from “shaken baby syndrome.”
Paramedics in Naugatuck needed to perform CPR on the baby to resuscitate him when they arrived at Valentine’s Rubber Avenue home in November. The boy had bleeding on his brain and a broken leg, which led police to conclude Valentine had assaulted him.
Although Valentine, 20, pleaded with Judge Roland Fasano not to send her to prison, the Waterbury Superior Court judge sentenced her to 18 months behind bars, saying her mishandling of the boy was born of “frustration and anger.”
“I adore my son, I miss him so much,” she said through tears as she pleaded for leniency. “All I want to be is a good mother to him.”
Police and emergency workers responded to a 911 call on Nov. 1, 2012 because the boy was unresponsive and had difficulty breathing. Valentine, of 933 Rubber Ave., was at work at the time and her boyfriend had been caring for the 4-month-old infant, according her public defender, Tashun Bowden-Lewis.
Hospital employees told police they suspected the baby had been abused. Officers questioned Valentine, who confessed she had shaken the baby a week earlier after she became frustrated with his crying.
As part of a plea deal, Valentine pleaded guilty to risk of injury to a minor earlier this year. She had faced up to five years in prison as part of that agreement.
Valentine hurriedly read from a prepared statement as she pleaded with Fasano to spare her prison time and allow her to protect and provide for her boy.
Bowden-Lewis said Valentine hasn’t seen her son in more than a year. The infant was born premature and had faced a list of medical problems since birth, including problems with his brain, lungs and eyes, she said.
The boy is now in his father’s care, she said.
Valentine, who was free on a $50,000 bond since her arrest, told Fasano she can’t walk past baby items without crying.
Doctors told her that her son had medical problems, but that he would be OK as he matured.
During the roughly five-minute statement, she didn’t take direct responsibility for her son’s injuries.
“I may have done something by rocking,” Valentine said.
Bowden-Lewis also told Fasano that Valentine had been abused as a child.
“I don’t think you’re a bad person,” Fasano told her. “You had a horrendous upbringing.”
But Fasano told Valentine the case “couldn’t be a walk,” referring to allowing her to walk out of the courthouse without prison time. The boy has lasting injuries and is unable to roll over or communicate, he told her.
The sentence needed to reflect the injuries to the boy and the fact they were “born out of anger.”
Valentine didn’t have a criminal record before her arrest last year.
Some of the roughly dozen people who came to support Valentine during Wednesday’s sentencing sobbed as handcuffs were placed on her by marshals. Before she was led away, Valentine gave them a glance as tears filled her eyes.
Valentine will serve three years of probation when she’s released and was ordered to stay away from her son unless she’s supervised.