The man accused of killing his infant son two years ago was sentenced to 14 years in prison Tuesday.
Michael Anthony Motley Sr. had been charged with child abuse, neglect and murder in the death of 10-week-old Michael Anthony Motley Jr.
Motley entered an Alford plea in Danville Circuit Court Tuesday, which is a type of guilty plea where the defendant chooses against going to a jury trial to avoid being found guilty based on the evidence against him.
It’s a way for a defendant to plead guilty to a charge but avoid the harsher sentence that may be handed down by a jury, said defense attorney Glenn Berger, who, with Greg Haymore, represented Motley.
On March 20, 2010, emergency crews responded to the 300 block of Wendell Scott Drive for a report of an unresponsive infant. When they arrived, they found 10-week-old Michael Anthony Motley Jr. not breathing and tried to resuscitate him. He was transported to Danville Regional Medical Center and later airlifted to Duke University Medical Center, where he was declared dead on March 22.
According to Danville Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Newman, Motley called 911 at 1:46 p.m. saying that he thought his son was dead. Rescue personnel arrived to find the infant in cardiac arrest.
The child regained a pulse at the hospital but couldn’t breathe on his own, Newman said. The 10-week-old was airlifted to Duke University Medical Center and later pronounced dead.
A CT scan showed the child had rib fractures and subdural hematoma — or bleeding on the brain.
Newman said there were no skull fractures or external injuries to the child. The child’s mother had gone to work when the incident occurred and there were no witnesses.
Newman said the 14-year sentence was fair and that it was better than taking chances on whether a jury would find Motley guilty.
But Berger disagreed with the judge’s decision.
“I think it was a harsh sentence,” Berger said during an interview Wednesday.
The case was complicated, Berger said. The child had broken ribs, but the state’s records indicated they were broken on three different occasions and some breaks may have occurred at birth, he said.
The state failed to do a bone scan determine bone strength and the child — who had a pre-existing subdural hematoma — may have suffered from vitamin D deficiency and rickets, Berger said.