A Kansas woman, who was illegally operating a daycare, was recently found guilty of abusing a 4-month-old baby so severely that he suffered brain damage and blindness. However, it was the judge’s unbelievable sentence that has sparked even more outrage in the community.
When Kingston Gilbert was just 4 months old, his bright future was shattered by the one individual his parents believed had his best interests in mind. Olathe resident Paige Hatfield had been caring for the newborn for just 11 days at her in-home daycare during the first few weeks of his young life when she did the unthinkable to the helpless infant.
For most parents, watching their infant accomplish milestones such as recognizing their family members and saying their first words is one of the greatest joys. Sadly, for Ashleigh Garcia and Paul Gilbert, seeing their son achieve many of these simply stages of childhood is an improbability.
Local emergency responders received a call from Hatfield that baby Kingston was violently throwing up. However, once paramedics reached her home, they discovered the brutal reality — Hatfield had so seriously beaten the infant that he was suffering from severe brain damage, causing him to go blind, according to FOX 4.
“It’s just hard,” Ashleigh Garcia said. “He was happy and healthy when we dropped him off. There was nothing wrong with our baby, and then we literally, literally like lost that baby.”
When medical experts determined that the baby had been abused at the hands of his daycare provider, Hatfield was promptly arrested and charged with causing bodily harm. It was then that investigators uncovered that she had been running her home daycare without the proper license all along.
Hatfield was eventually found guilty on charges of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, which a felony, and operating an unlicensed daycare, which is a misdemeanor. However, it was the unbelievable sentence that Hatfield received that has many outraged at the court system for injustice.
Despite the Children’s Mercy Hospital determining that Kingston would likely be blind and seriously debilitated for the rest of his life, Hatfield received just 7 years in prison for abusing the helpless infant. According to court documents, baby Kingston was “suffering from abusive head trauma,” which they determined could be “only caused by violent non-accidental physical trauma” via “extreme violence.”
Understandably, Kingston’s parents are devastated by the sentencing. Although prosecutors asked for an enhanced sentence due to the nature of Hatfield’s crime, she will likely be out of prison in just a few short years.
“We spent 18 days in the I.C.U. just praying that he got through,” Garcia said. “We were told by doctors he is never going to be the same boy. I mean, we pretty much had to grieve the loss of our child and accept that the baby that we were bringing home was not the baby that I dropped off at daycare that day.”
Investigators concluded that Hatfield must have shaken the 4-month-old baby so hard that it caused “abusive head trauma,” also known as Shaken Baby Syndrome. This diagnosis is sometimes fatal, although the effects on newborns who survive it are often severe, lifelong, and irreversible.
Kingston’s parents lamented the judge’s ruling, arguing that Hatfield’s punishment is hardly a slap on the wrist compared to the life sentence that their innocent son is serving.
Paul and Ashleigh explained that they were ecstatic when they became pregnant with Kingston. According to the couple, the first four months of their son’s life marks the happiest they’ve ever been. Now, they live day to day with the reality that their son will never be the same again.
“I just always had a vision of having a family and having a son,” Gilbert said. “It’s unlikely that he will ever ride a bike, ever read a book, ever watch a movie, ever go to college, ever a career.”
Following his injuries, Kingston’s family has refocused their efforts on accomplishing smaller challenges and making his life as normal as possible. Incredibly, they have chosen a positive outlook, remaining thankful for each milestone Kingston surpasses.
“We never give up hope because literally we were told that he possibly just lay there for the rest of his life,” Garcia said. “He may never sit up; he may never push up in his arms; he may never do anything. And we have seen him do amazing things because he works so hard.”
Since Hatfield’s sentencing, Kingston’s parents are looking to get the laws changed in hopes that vulnerable individuals are better protected. For now, they hope to move past the heartbreaking ordeal, focusing entirely on their amazing little boy’s quality of life.