A man who beat his 5-year-old autistic stepson with a belt pleaded guilty Tuesday to cruelty to children.
The charges against 29-year-old Daniel M. Baker had been pending for several months in Richmond County Superior Court after Judge J. David Roper rejected an earlier plea negotiation with a recommendation that included no time in prison.
On Tuesday, Roper said he was troubled to send Baker to prison, but he believed a 2-year prison term followed by a 3-year probation term was appropriate.
Assistant District Attorney Melissa Marks told the judge that on March 21, 2012, Baker beat the child so severely that the boy had numerous bruises and tissue damage.
There was a three-day delay in seeking medical care for the boy, who was passing blood in his urine by the time he was taken to the hospital. It was a life-threatening condition, Marks said.
The child was hospitalized for six days. His maternal grandmother spent the next 10 months going through the legal steps necessary to gain custody of the child, she told the judge. Since then, she said, she heard from school personnel that the boy had repeatedly missed school and had complained his stepfather hurt his bottom.
Baker said Tuesday that he loved his stepchildren and had only physically disciplined the boy once before.
Baker said he never had a father in his life and all he has ever wanted was to be a good father himself. He said he hadn’t meant to hurt the boy, but acknowledged that the child was still hurting so much the next day he couldn’t attend school.