An Idaho father who caused brain damage in his newborn son that blinded the boy was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison on Friday.
But James D. Blanchard could be freed much earlier after he admitted in a plea arrangement that he "placed his son in a situation that his health and well-being was endangered," KHQ.com reports.
Last summer, Blanchard's 20-day-old son Noah suffered a major brain injury while he was caring for the infant, the Coeur d'Alene Press reported. Noah's mom returned to their Coeur d'Alene home from picking up Chinese food for dinner when she discovered that the baby wasn't breathing.
Exactly what Blanchard did is unknown, but the emergency room doctor who examined Noah said it's consistent with shaken baby syndrome.
Because Blanchard pleaded guilty, no witnesses were called. But the prosecution claimed there were witnesses prepared to testify that Blanchard shook Noah and slammed him into his crib, My Fox Spokane reported.
"His life will be full of challenges," Noah's mother said in court on Friday. "As a result of this my son was taken from me."
Noah will probably never walk or talk, said Dr. Brian Hickok, the emergency room doctor.
As part of the plea deal, Blanchard could be released from prison much earlier after completing a yearlong program chosen by the Idaho Department of Correction. Blanchard will receive treatment in the program and be evaluated before returning to Coeur d'Alene for a hearing to possibly shorten his jail time.
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