The father found not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his 9-month-old son is expected to be released Thursday, following a sentencing hearing in Merced County court.
Andrew Sanchez pleaded no contest in August to felony counts of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment causing great bodily injury in the case involving his son, Maddix Ramsour.
He was sentenced to five years at half time credit and also credit for his time served, meaning he would be available for release on Thursday, according to Merced County Superior Court Judge Ronald W. Hansen.
Members of the Ramsour family pleaded with the judge for a longer sentence.
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During the trial, the defense called experts, who said the baby could have died from untreated injuries from previous falls. Maddix had fallen on three other occasions but appeared fine, the baby’s mother said during the trial.
The prosecution argued Sanchez, who they said never wanted to be a father, reacted out of anger or frustration and slammed the baby. Expert witnesses for the prosecution said brain bleeding, vein tears and other injuries were too great to have come from a fall.
The Ramsour family read victim impact statements on Thursday, saying "the system failed" Maddix, whose injuries were similar to those suffered in a car crash, according to one expert's testimony.
"That's a violent (act) on a 9-month-old baby by his father," Mike Ramsour, Maddix's grandfather, said.
The family wiped tears from their eyes and wept openly during the impact statements. Most them left the room as the judge read his findings.
Hansen defended the process, which was carried out in his courtroom.
"This science is not as clear cut as the family would like to believe," Hansen said in open court. "This resolution is appropriate base on the uncertainty of the science."
Sanchez pleaded not guilty to charges in July 2015, days after he was arrested by Merced County Sheriff’s Office detectives. He was accused of killing the boy on March 5, 2015, at a home in the 30000 block of Cottonwood Road in Gustine.
Sanchez’s public defender, attorney Stephanie Jamieson, noted her client's plea was not an admission of guilt but a legal maneuver to prevent further prosecution while maintaining the right to file an appeal.
"Everything that needs to be said about this case has been said, including the judge’s remarks about the ongoing controversy that surrounds the science of traumatic brain injury," she told the Sun-Star.
The science of head trauma played a role in the case that had no witnesses, according to Sara Rosenthal, Merced County deputy district attorney. She also addressed the "displeasure" the Ramsour family expressed in court.
"They have every right to feel that way. They lost Maddix," she said. "They lost their 9-month-old nephew (and) grandson. ... I think their reaction is totally normal and acceptable."