A Lake County man who hurt his infant son so severely the boy is now developmentally disabled won't go to prison for his crime, a judge decided Tuesday.
Daniel Mitchell, 43, formerly of Long Grove, instead was sentenced to four years of intensive probation and one year in a work-release jail program. He also will have to complete 300 hours of public service, donate $500 to a child service agency and write a letter of apology that one day can be read to his son.
"The crime that you committed was absolutely reprehensible," Lake County Circuit Judge John T. Phillips told Mitchell. "This is the way you can make amends to your son."
Mitchell, who now lives in Mundelein according to available records, pleaded guilty in May to aggravated domestic battery in the October 2007 attack on his then 3-month-old son, Lex.
Mitchell slammed the baby into a changing table, authorities said, fracturing his skull and injuring his brain.
Mitchell initially was charged with aggravated battery to a child, a more serious crime carrying a maximum prison sentence of 30 years.
Prosecutors had asked Phillips to sentence Mitchell to six years in prison - one year shy of the maximum allowable penalty for the domestic battery charge.
But Phillips opted not to imprison Mitchell so he could continue working and earn money to support his son and pay for the boy's medical bills.
Talking to Phillips before the sentence was delivered, Mitchell said his actions were inexcusable but asked for an opportunity to have a relationship with wife, from whom he is now separated, and his son.
"I can be the dad that I should have been all along," he said.
Despite his age, Lex has the skills of an 8-month-old, an occupational therapist who has worked with him testified during the sentencing hearing. He cannot walk or speak, does not eat properly and must take daily anti-seizure medication.
A DVD with video footage depicting Lex's physical and mental disabilities was shown to the court.
Lex's mother, Mandy Mitchell, addressed the court before Phillips handed down the sentence.
Doing her best to hold back tears, she rattled off a list of things her son, who had been developing properly before he was injured, now may not be able to do, including making friends, getting married and having a career.
"Every day is a challenge for Lex," she said.
Afterward, she stared coldly and silently at Mitchell as he was led from the courtroom by sheriff's deputies.