BLOOMINGTON — A Bloomington father serving 15 years in prison for aggravated battery of his infant son was sentenced to 30 years Thursday after he pleaded guilty to murder in the boy's death.
Ryan Howard, now 25, admitted to causing the child’s serious injuries in 2011 that led to the infant’s death nine months later.
The state vacated the aggravated battery conviction that was based on the same allegations as the murder charges and he will receive credit for the 2,517 days served on the initial charge.
The state filed the murder charges in 2016 after reopening an investigation into the case.
Howard admitted to police in 2011 that he violently shook the 2-month-old baby after he became angry with the child's mother, who left the baby with Howard while she was at a friend's house, according to a statement read in court by Assistant State's Attorney Jacob Harlow.
In his brief remarks to the judge, Howard said, "I'm extremely sorry for everything that's happened."
In a victim impact statement to Judge Scott Drazewski, the baby's grandmother, Lori Morger, described the consequences of Howard's actions on the baby and her daughter.
A feeding tube provided nourishment for the baby during the final months of his life in a state facility. "He suffered immensely," said Morger.
A week before the baby's first birthday he was rushed to the hospital with complications from his injuries, said Morger, and placed on life support. The baby's mother was forced to make the difficult decision to remove him from medical assistance.
The baby's mother is still dealing with his loss, said Morger.
"She lost her spirit. She gave up on herself ... she's put her life away and has no desire to better herself," said Morger.
Howard wiped tears during Morger's statement was delivered while he stood in shackles in front of the judge's bench between officers from the state Department of Corrections.
Howard was eligible for 100 years because of the victim's young age. He must serve 100 percent of the sentence.