A Delaware mother whose toddler suffered fatal brain injuries while in the care of a former airman expressed outrage after the man was sentenced to 18 months of probation for the child’s 2012 death.
Justin Corbett, who was initially charged with first-degree murder in 21-month-old Evan Dudley’s death, faced up to eight years in prison after convicted in July on a lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide, The Associated Press reported.
On Thursday, a judge sentenced the 28-year-old to the full eight years, before suspending it for 31 days time served and probation, citing his clean criminal history and “exemplary military record,” the AP reported.
Corbett had maintained that the child ― whom he was watching while the toddler’s mother, fellow airman Nicole Dudley, was serving in the Middle East ― sustained his injuries by falling down stairs.
A Delaware Online reporter, speaking to Dudley on Thursday, asked the mother if she believed justice had been served. Her answer: “Absolutely not.”
“You have a man who killed Evan who is walking free. The evidence speaks for itself,” she said outside the Kent County Superior Court in Dover.
A coroner reported that her son suffered serious brain injuries, as well as a detached retina and multiple bruises to his head and body. The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide by blunt-force trauma, Delaware State News reported.
“I’ve been in that house and have seen those stairs. It’s just not possible,” Dudley told Delaware Online of the eight carpeted steps in Corbett’s home.
Ahead of Corbett’s sentencing, the married father took the stand and expressed his grief to Dudley over the loss of her son.
“Nikki, I can’t ever start to understand the pain you feel,” he said, according to Delaware Online. “I will bear the burden of this tragedy my whole life. I am truly aware of the pain this accident and I have caused you, and for that, I am truly sorry.”
His apology appeared to offer little, if any, comfort to the grieving mother.
“Just because you’re in the military doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be held accountable for your actions,” she later told the AP. “I think the jury failed, I think the judge failed and I think justice was not served.”