FAIRBANKS – It wasn’t often that Daniele Prescott let Travonti Osbey watch her two sons.
In fact, she would get a baby sitter to watch her boys most days. But the couple had been dating for several months and Osbey seemed good with the kids, playing with them and taking them to the park, so Prescott would let Osbey watch the children Saturdays when she went to work.
It’s a decision that might have cost 21-month-old Tarayvien Isias Prescott his life.
Prescott was a constant presence in court as Osbey faced a second-degree murder charge in connection with Tarayvien’s death, but she previously refused to talk to the media. With the case against Osbey resolved this week, she said Thursday that it was time for the public to know her side of the story.
No one knows for sure what happened Aug. 11, 2007, at the southside basement apartment Prescott and Osbey shared, but some kind of trauma to the back of his head left Tarayvien with multiple skull fractures.
He died five days after receiving the injury.
Osbey reportedly told police that Tarayvien fell off a bunk bed. Tarayvien’s older brother, who was 4 at the time, gave police conflicting stories but at first said Osbey slammed Tarayvien’s head into the carpet.
Prescott is more inclined to believe the story her older son told her as Tarayvien lay in an Anchorage hospital.
Tarayvien’s family insisted Osbey stay in the waiting room as the baby lay dying. Osbey was quiet most of the time but would occasionally make comments about how everyone was blaming him for what happened, Prescott said.
As for her older son, he’s been going to therapy and seems to have blocked out any memory of how Tarayvien died.
And in the days before his death, Tarayvien seemed to be avoiding Osbey for some reason, she said.
Whatever happened in August 2007, it led Osbey, 26, to plead guilty Wednesday morning to a reduced count of criminally negligent homicide. Originally charged with second-degree murder and facing 99 years in prison, he could be released from jail as soon as next month.
“The fatal injury could have been caused by an intentional strike to the back of the head, and Mr. Osbey was the only adult around who would have been capable of causing that type of injury,” Gray said. “But the injury could also have been negligently inflicted. Proving it happened one way versus the other would have been impossible.”
The difficulty in proving how Tarayvien died was just one of the problems Osbey’s case faced as it wound its way through the court system. Even though Tarayvien died in August 2007, Osbey wasn’t arrested or charged until February 2008.
He initially seemed willing to resolve the case. He was even scheduled to plead guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter in December 2008, but backed out of the deal just minutes before he was supposed to change his plea. If Osbey had pleaded guilty to manslaughter, he would have received a 20-year sentence, Prescott said.
Other factors delayed the trial. Osbey went through three lawyers as the case seemed to be headed for trial. The District Attorney’s Office also went through three prosecutors. The medical examiner who declared Tarayvien’s death a homicide died. In 2009, the original indictment was dismissed because of an error in grand jury proceedings. It was refiled a few days later.
And with no memory of what happened, Tarayvien’s brother was ruled out as a witness, Prescott said.
Prescott doesn’t know what Osbey’s sentence should be, but she said it makes no sense when other people convicted of lesser crimes receive harsher sentences.
“I don’t really feel like he should spend life in prison, but I think he should get a greater sentence and get some kind of mental help,” she said.