Probation for mom in shaken baby case

Relates to:
Date: 2009-08-08

By Melissa Regennitter

MUSCATINE, Iowa — Nothing can change what happened to Tyler Addington the day his adoptive mother, Melanie Leathers Addington, shook his tiny body causing him to suffer serious injuries.

That was one thing the judge and attorneys agreed upon at a sentencing hearing Friday for Addington.

In May, Addington pleaded guilty to shaking the 2-month-old in September 2007 as part of a reduced charge of child endangerment causing injury, a Class D felony.

On Friday, she was sentenced to three years probation, continued mental health treatment and a $750 fine by District Judge Marlita Greve at the Muscatine County Courthouse.

“The remorse that you have expressed ... certainly indicates that you would take Tyler’s place if you could,” Greve said following the sentencing.

Addington had been weeping before she entered the courtroom and tears continually streamed down her face during the hearing. Addington, who lives with her family in Kentucky, was accompanied by her husband, Brian, and parents, Rosa and Ray Leathers Jr. The Addingtons were living in Muscatine at the time of the incident.

Melanie Addington indicated to the judge that she could not speak and her father took the stand on her behalf.

“I hope you can appreciate the punishment she has inflicted on herself,” Leathers tearfully told the judge. He said his daughter, a registered nurse who worked for most of her career with babies in postnatal units, always wanted to be a mother.

She has “inner demons,” including depression and an eating disorder, he said, and has attempted suicide and been cutting herself since the incident.

He said there is a large support system for her back home and that he hoped the judge would sentence her to probation so she can continue rehabilitation.

Addington was originally charged with child endangerment causing serious injury, a Class C felony.

Assistant Muscatine County Attorney Dana Christiansen said the charge was reduced because the boy’s condition has significantly improved since the incident. The County Attorney’s Office extensively analyzed the case before recommending that Addington be sentenced to five years in prison, Christiansen said.

“A little boy will grow up with significant physical challenges,” he said, adding that laws provide special protection for innocent children because they can’t protect themselves.

“There has been by no means a complete recovery,” Christiansen added.

After sentencing the judge told Addington that she needed to make arrangements to have her probation transferred from Iowa to Kentucky before she left the state.

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