Cratty Sentenced to 10 Years for Infant Son`s Death
A Bismarck man who pleaded guilty to murdering his 3-month-old son will go to jail for 10 years. Aarin Cratty is just a few days away from his 21st birthday.
The sentencing hearing took about an hour. Prosecutors asked for 40 years in jail, and another 20 years suspended, but what Cratty will serve will be much less than that.
Cratty pleaded guilty in June to murdering his 3 1/2-month-old son, Hank. But even prosecutors say this wasn`t a typical murder case.
"Obviously this is not the usual murder case we see," said Richard Riha
, Burleigh County State`s Attorney.
Riha says Cratty shook the baby last October, resulting in the infant`s death. But Cratty`s attorney says he was playing with the child when the baby`s head struck his knee.
"You have someone who by all accounts, according to all of the officers, if you listen to the tapes, the one thing that`s repeated was this was an accident," said defense attorney Travis Finck.
Cratty`s parents both testified on his behalf before the judge handed down a sentence.
"We visited and each time we visited, Aarin was your perfect picture of a father, as far as the doting father," said Cratty`s father Lance Cratty.
"He`s not a bad person. He made a tragic mistake," explained Cratty`s mother Christie Cratty. "It was an awful accident and we`ve all been through hell because of it, but I don`t think he deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison for this."
The most emotional testimony came from Hank`s mother.
"I don`t think he should be in there,
" said Lori Lyon, Cratty`s fiance. "He`s a good guy. He wouldn`t harm anybody."
She said he didn`t believe Cratty posed a danger to anyone, and says she has been able to forgive him.
Even Cratty himself says he`s sorry for what happened.
"It was an accident.
I`d never hurt my son on purpose," said Cratty. "I don`t think anyone would."
Finck says even though state law requires child abuse that ends in a death to be regarded as murder, what happened in the case was similar to several recent manslaughter cases where defendants received five to seven years in jail.
Finck said, "Sometimes in this profession you have to pull yourself away from the paper and look at people."
Judge David Reich sentenced Cratty to 25 years with all but 10 suspended for five years. That means he will spend 10 years in prison, and because it was a violent crime, he will have to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence.
Cratty will receive credit for nearly a year that he has already been in jail.