The Liberty Township man who was convicted last month of two felonies in
connection with the death of his girlfriend’s 7-month-old son in March 2012
has been sentenced to 40 years in the Indiana Department of Correction.
Benjamin M. Willis II, 25, with a listed address in the 1800 block of Vail
Drive, was sentenced on Monday by Porter Superior Court Judge Roger
Bradford. He had been convicted of neglect of a dependent and battery, both
Class A felonies punishable by a term of 20 to 50 years.
Bradford noted in his sentencing order that, under law, the two guilty
verdicts must be merged and he accordingly sentenced Willis on the second
Class A felony, battery.
Bradford found two aggravating circumstances: “the extreme youth of the
victim”; and the fact that Willis “was in a position of trust.” Bradford
found no mitigating factors, in sentencing Willis first to the advisory
sentence of 30 years and then adding 10 more.
None of the sentence was suspended.
A jury after four and a half hours of deliberation on Friday found the
Liberty Township resident guilty of two A felony charges in connection with
the March 2012 death of his girlfriend’s 7-month old son.
According to the probable cause affidavit filed by Porter County Sheriff’s
Police, EMS personnel were dispatched to Willis’ residence on March 8, 2012,
in response to an infant’s “gasping for breath,” and observed “swelling and
crunching of bones” on the back of the head of Keagan Fishel.
Keagan was pronounced dead at 8:45 a.m. on March 10.
An autopsy determined that blunt force trauma to the head caused Keagan’s
death with multiple fractures and hemorrhages within and outside the skull.
The boy’s mother, Sasha Sabates, told police that earlier that day she
bathed her son and then laid him down for his nap while Willis was sleeping
in another room. When she went to fetch Keagan, Sabates advised she saw that
her son was very pale and had vomited on himself and asked Willis to call
Willis denied hurting the infant and offered investigators alternative
theories that either a former girlfriend of his had injured Keagan or that
Sabates had dropped her son while giving him a bath.