NEW BRITAIN In a case a judge called “one of the most egregious” she ever heard, a Bristol woman was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday for shaking her baby so violently that the baby nearly died.
The sentence of Savannah Shepard, 25, is to be followed by five years of special parole. She is prohibited from ever having contact with the girl, now 3. She also is banned from being with her younger child. Both children are in foster care.
Shepard previously pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and risk of injury to a minor in Superior Court. She also was accused of having a weapon in jail.
The 3-year-old needs a feeding tube to eat and is bedridden, Judge Hillary Strackbein said. She has a medicine pump installed in her spine. She is legally blind and she can’t hear.
No one spoke for the little girl, although two Bristol detectives watched the sentencing. No one spoke for Savannah Shepard, either.
She didn’t say she’s sorry.
Asked if she wanted to make a statement, she said, “No, I don’t your Honor.”
She was arrested in March 2011. At the time, a state prosecutor said the baby will probably never walk.
Shepard, who was a part-time ambulance worker, had no prior arrests, a bail commissioner said.
Police said the baby, who was 8 weeks old at the time of the Sept. 3, 2010 incident, appeared to have been shaken.
In the warrant for Shepard’s arrest, a Connecticut Children’s Medical Center doctor who specializes in child abuse said the baby “will never be capable of walking or speaking due to the abusive head trauma she suffered,”
Shepard’s mother, Sandra Belcha, told police she believes her daughter lost her patience and injured her baby by shaking her.
“I believe she is capable of such an act as violently shaking her baby because Savannah is high strung, she has no patience and has no coping skills,” Belcha said. “She gets agitated easily.”
Shepard told police she shook her baby on Aug. 27 and on Sept. 3 after the baby became limp and made odd breathing noises, but said neither shake was violent.
Story by Christine Dempsey, Hartford Courant