Chesterton Tribune



Man convicted of battering infant who died gets 40 years

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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 911.

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.


Posted 12/17/2013






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