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'Justice for Justice'

Man gets 30 years in infant's '07 death

Man gets 30 years in infant's '07 death

January 04, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

The Hagerstown man convicted in the death of a former girlfriend's infant son, who died in January 2007 of serious head injuries, was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in prison.

Floyd Edward Bingaman III, 21, was found guilty by a jury in November of involuntary manslaughter, first-degree child abuse and second-degree assault.

Family and friends of the victim, 4-month-old Justice Christopher Calvin Myers-Cannon, crowded into a small courtroom in Washington County Circuit Court to hear the sentence.

Outside the courthouse, a group of protesters held signs showing Bingaman's face and the hand-written phrases "Baby Killer" and "Justice for Baby Justice."

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"I was asked to stand for Justice," said William Hammond, a friend of the infant's grandparents, who picketed Thursday. "He's in the grave. He needs somebody to stand up for him."

Justice was pronounced dead Jan. 6, 2007, at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Justice's death was ruled a homicide, and during the November trial, a medical expert testified that blunt force trauma caused some of the worst head injuries he had seen.

Bingaman started dating Justice's mother, Ashley Myers, about two months before the infant's death. During the trial, Myers and others testified that Bingaman had helped care for Justice, and even had talked about adopting the baby.

Testifying about the night that Justice was injured was one of the hardest things she ever had done, Myers said Thursday after Bingaman was sentenced.

"I did the best I could for my son," she said.

Before sentencing, Washington County Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. entertained a motions hearing on a defense motion for a new trial. The motion was denied.

Long sentenced Bingaman to 10 years in prison for the involuntary manslaughter charge and to 30 years in prison with 10 years suspended for the first-degree child abuse charge. The sentences are to be served consecutively.

Bingaman faced a maximum penalty of 40 years. He must serve four years of supervised probation upon his release, Long ordered.

"Justice for Justice, that's what happened here today," said Chris Cannon, the infant's father. Cannon and other members of his family wore white T-shirts with Justice's face emblazoned on them.

Cannon and Myers plan to push for legislation for stiffer penalties in child-abuse cases, they said Thursday.

Defense attorney Scott Rolle filed a motion in December for a new trial because the jury's verdict was inconsistent, he said. Involuntary manslaughter means the defendant's action was negligent, while first-degree child abuse requires malicious action, Rolle said Thursday morning after the motions hearing and sentencing.

He expected the motion to be denied because courts have, in the past, allowed jurors leeway with their verdicts, Rolle said.

In response to the defense motion, Assistant State's Attorney Robert Veil said the jury's verdict was not necessarily inconsistent because the jury could have reached a compromise or might have decided that Bingaman hadn't intended to kill Justice.

Bingaman's parents and counselor testified during the sentencing hearing, Rolle said.

A woman who answered the telephone at Bingaman's parents' home Thursday afternoon said his family had no comment.

Long's sentence offered Bingaman a little bit of hope, Rolle said.

Justice's father didn't think Bingaman deserved hope.

"My son didn't get a chance," Cannon said.

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