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Former Virginia Beach sailor gets eight years in prison for killing newborn son

By JANE HARPER | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: November 29, 2018

VIRGINIA BEACH (Tribune News Service) — A 24-year-old man whose newborn died after suffering numerous skull and rib fractures was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison.

Circuit Judge A. Bonwill Shockley's punishment for Deandre Routt was above the maximum of six years suggested by state sentencing guidelines but below the 13-year cap set in a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Routt initially was charged with second-degree murder after the June 2015 death of his son.

But prosecutors said the lack of cooperation from his wife led them to offer a deal that allowed him to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and child abuse, and also limited any possible prison time.

Routt had never been in criminal trouble before, was 20 years old, serving in the Navy, and living with his wife and newborn son at the time of the incident.

The day the child was injured, Routt's wife had texted him to let him know she was on her way home from work. He responded by saying, “You’re gonna be mad at me but it wasn’t my fault.”

He told her that their son, 8-week-old J’dyn, had rolled off a sofa and hit his head.

Routt stayed home while his wife took the child to the hospital. He later told police that he'd wrapped J’dyn in a blanket and was swinging him back and forth to get him to stop crying when the boy rolled out, struck an oven, and fell to the floor.

Dr. Michelle Clayton, a pediatrician and child abuse expert, testified Wednesday that the baby suffered severe brain damage as well as fractures to his skull – 10 of them – and seven to his ribs. Some were old, while others were new. None of the injuries could be attributed to a fall, she said.

A doctor who treated J'dyn at the hospital testified at a previous hearing that the injuries were consistent with a violent shaking.

Defense attorney Afshin Farashahi presented the judge with 30 letters written on Routt's behalf, including one from his former high school principal, his pastor and multiple family members and friends.

"No one has any explanation for what happened," Farashahi said. "I'm asking the court to have mercy on Deandre. This is not a person you are ever going to see in court again."

Prosecutor Nickie Herron argued that Routt's plea deal was mercy enough.

"It was a horrific and painful ending that J'dyn went through," Herron said. "He was 8 weeks old. Completely helpless. Completely vulnerable. Where was the mercy for J'dyn?"

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