A judge on Wednesday sentenced a father who severely beat his 5-month-old son in July to eight years in prison.
Randall M. Penn, 21, of Shiloh previously pleaded guilty to aggravated battery of a child. The infant suffered numerous injuries throughout his body, including brain damage and bite marks on his face.
Circuit Judge Zina Cruse said she could not reconcile the respectful, young man described by family members and the man who admitted to severely harming his child.
"I can't wrap my head around the young man who followed the mother to another state to work and support his child, with the bite marks on a 4-, 5-month-old baby's head," Cruse told Penn during his sentencing hearing.
Penn, wearing the orange jumpsuit of inmates at the St. Clair County Jail, asked the judge for mercy and said he was "truly remorseful" for harming his son. He said he was young and immature, and hoped to one day become an ordained minister. Penn begged the judge to be lenient because a long jail sentence would leave his son without a father.
Penn's attorney asked the judge for the minimum sentence of six years in prison because Penn was under the influence of marijuana when he "spiraled out of control" harming his sick infant.
Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Coffin had urged the judge to sentence Penn to the maximum 30 years in prison.
"Instead of showing love to his child, he showed hatred and cruelty," Coffin said. "He brutalized his own baby in a particularly heinous manner."
The baby's mother was not cooperative with police and prosecutors, Coffin said.
Penn's father, Michael Penn, asked the court for leniency and said Randall Penn was not a grown man even at the age of 21.
"Society is different than it was," Michael Penn said. "I pray this court is merciful because the person that will suffer more than anyone else will be the child" deprived of a father.
Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2501.