20-year sentence in child's scalding

Laurel man apologizes for injuring 2-year-old niece

April 09, 2010|By Don Markus | don.markus@baltsun.com

Despite the pleas of friends and relatives, including the parents of his victim, a 38-year-old Laurel man was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday for scalding his then-2-year-old niece and leaving her legs and feet permanently scarred.

Michael Adegoke Oye-Adeniran's pastor, a military pastor and the girls' parents all told Howard County Circuit Judge Timothy J. McCrone that the Nigerian national didn't intentionally injure the toddler. Then Oye-Adeniran himself begged McCrone for mercy.

"I'm not an animal; I wouldn't hurt a child never in my life," Oye-Adeniran said, sobbing. "I am very sorry to put everyone through this. I love children."

McCrone said he was impressed by the fact that more than a dozen people showed up in court to support Oye-Adeniran. But he also suspected Oye-Adeniran of manipulating them, which he said "added insult to injury."

The girl's injuries resulted in several surgeries, mostly involving skin grafts, at a hospital in Boston. According to prosecutors, the little girl's feet were so scalded by the bathtub water that her toenails melted off.

Prosecutors say Oye-Adeniran was watching his niece in October 2008, as he did on weekdays while her mother attended school, when he became enraged that she had soiled herself. They say he put the girl's feet in a bathtub filled with water that was later determined to be 160 degrees. The girl suffered second- and third-degree burns on 30 percent of her body.

Instead of calling for help, prosecutors say, Oye-Adeniran tried to cover up what he did by going out to a local store to get analgesic ointment and bandages, leaving the toddler alone in the house on two separate occasions that day. It was only after his wife came home that they took the girl to the hospital.

Public defender Mary Pizzo said that "after he did something horrible, he did something foolish" but that Oye-Adeniran's actions should not be punished under the same sentencing guidelines that would apply to a defendant convicted of second-degree murder or who showed the same pattern of behavior over a long period of time.

"The punishment should not just fit the crime but the person," Pizzo said.

McCrone initially forgot to tell Oye-Adeniran that he would have to serve at least half his sentence, and had to bring him back in the courtroom about 10 minutes after handing down the sentence.

Oye-Adeniran was still distraught, as were his relatives and friends. Oye-Adeniran, who had talked of becoming a U.S. citizen and enlisting in the Army Reserves, now faces deportation after serving his sentence.

While the girl's mother talked of how her daughter was a "normal 3-year-old, jumping around," Assistant State's Attorney Lisa Broten was unmoved.

"This little girl is blessed to have a loving and supportive family ... but the facts and evidence showed what happened," Broten said.

She said family members who left the girl in Oye-Adeniran's care still feel guilty.

"This is a battle that is going to be with them the rest of their lives," Broten said.

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