Message now undeliverable

January 19, 2014 

Gabriel was God's chief messenger, foretelling the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus. You would expect someone who named their son Gabriel to understand a few biblical imperatives.

But for all Randall M. Penn's professed understanding of fatherhood's importance and deep faith making him want to be a minister, he clearly has no business being either.

Penn, 21, of Shiloh, on Wednesday was sentenced to eight years in prison for aggravated battery of his son, Gabriel. He beat his baby boy, leaving the 5-month-old with injuries throughout his body, bites on his face and brain damage.

Penn and his family blamed marijuana use. They blamed his immaturity, even at 21. They pleaded for leniency so the baby would not be without a father.

Well, we contend baby Gabriel never had a father. He certainly is better off without Randall Penn in his life.

Penn could have faced up to 30 years in prison. Associate Judge Zina Cruse said before sentencing that she did not understand why no one spoke for Gabriel, and Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Coffin said that she had to be the baby's voice because the mother was not cooperating with police.

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said the complications of the case made him believe his office could best speak for the baby. The maternal grandparents who are now caring for the baby were at the sentencing but were not asked to speak.

We wish someone's message for Gabriel had been louder and clearer. Maybe then Penn would find himself in prison for longer than the eight years and much closer to the 30.

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