OGDEN -- Not a good day for child beaters Wednesday in 2nd District Court as one was sentenced to prison and the other told he's likely headed there.
Without much discussion, Apolinar Flores, 38, pleaded no contest and was sentenced to up to five years in the Utah State Prison for child abuse. The sentence was suspended in favor of probation and remaining in the county jail on an immigration hold pending deportation to his native Mexico this week. The prison term would be invoked if he ever returned to the United States.
Judge W. Brent West granted Flores credit for 618 days held in jail without bail initially, then unable to raise $15,000 cash bail. He was arrested Feb. 6, 2012 after doctors reported multiple skull fractures, both new and healing, to his girlfriend's then 9-month-old son when he was taken to a local hospital.
More animated Wednesday was Bradley Buttars, 22, who pleaded guilty to child abuse last month for breaking his 4-month-old daughter's femur in disciplining her.
Buttars was arrested in May in South Ogden after police were notified of the child's injuries by hospital doctors.
The Adult Probation and Parole pre-sentencing recommendation -- based on a numerical matrix measuring a defendant's criminal record, support system, and other factors -- pointed to probation for Buttars, parole officer LuAnn Rodriguez told the judge Wednesday. But the agency was recommending a prison term of up to five years because of the seriousness of the child's injuries, she said.
Deputy Weber County Attorney Letitia Toombs also said the child suffered from neglect, as well as the break to a bone usually difficult to fracture. "He deserves at least a year in jail," she said.
Buttars stood to apologize for his behavior, but noted it was only recently the child was found to have celiac disease. In small children the disease can leave bones undeveloped.
"I'm sorry I hurt her ... but she asks to come with me when I leave every time I visit her."
"She probably still loves you," the judge told Buttars. "But you're the man who injured her. I have a hard time with parents who injure their children."
But in response to a defense plea for leniency, West took the case under advisement, postponing sentencing to Oct. 30 to consider a possible alternative to a prison term. "If I was to sentence you today, it would probably be prison," he told Buttars.
Flores' no-contest plea means he does not admit guilt, but acknowledges the evidence against him would likely convict him at trial. It is treated the same at sentencing as a guilty plea.
Flores has been involved with the mother, although not married, for a lengthy time, police said, but he is not the baby's biological father.
Flores has claimed throughout that the child fell off a bed, while doctors maintained a fall could not have possibly produced the multiple skull fractures, according to charging documents.
But in his plea statement signed Wednesday, Flores only admitted to leaving the child "unattended on a bed, resulting in a subsequent fall."
In another child-beating case freshly in court in recent days, Ryan Knight, 25, of Woods Cross, was in Farmington 2nd District Court Thursday on child abuse charge for a status conference, which was continued to Oct. 31.
The state Division of Child and Family Services reported the case to police after they were alerted to the injuries to Knight's 6-month-old son by doctors at Primary Children's Medical Center. They are listed as "multiple fractures to his right femur, a fractured shoulder blade, and bruising to the head and ear," according to charging documents.
Contact reporter Tim Gurrister at (801)625-4238, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @tgurrister.