A 32-year-old man was sentenced Friday to four years in prison in connection with the death of a Rock Island infant in August 2015.
Robert J. Brewer Jr. declined to make a statement before Rock Island County Judge Frank Fuhr handed down the sentence.
Fuhr said no one will ever know what happened the day that 3-month-old Eli Brewer died.
“Nothing I can do can bring that child back,” he said.
Brewer pleaded guilty in January to involuntary manslaughter, a Class 2 felony punishable by three to 14 years in prison.
He initially faced the more serious charge of first-degree murder.
Police found Eli, who was not breathing and had no pulse, at a home in the 1200 block of 31st Street in Rock Island on Aug. 16, 2015.
He was taken to Trinity Rock Island and later transferred to OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, where he died two days later.
A Peoria County coroner's jury ruled Eli's death as a homicide on July 14.
According to prosecutors, Brewer had been caring for the baby, who was fussy, the day he became unresponsive. Prosecutors say Brewer applied force to the mouth and nose of Eli to quiet him but did not intend to injure him.
The baby’s mother, Lindsey Brower, was upstairs sleeping after returning home from work, according to prosecutors. Brewer and Brower were dating at the time of Eli’s death, according to prosecutors.
Rock Island County Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Gardner recommended the maximum sentence Friday and noted Eli’s injuries, which included bruising on the inside of his mouth, blood coming from his nose and a fractured rib.
“We’re dealing with an infant,” she said. “The injuries, if they were any more serious, we wouldn’t be looking at involuntary manslaughter.”
His attorney, Matthew Durbin, asked for a sentence of probation, arguing that Brewer has taken responsibility for what happened, has a minimal criminal history and is not a danger to society.
Eli’s death, Durbin said, is a tragedy that cannot be undone.
“Are we going to fix the situation by putting Mr. Brewer in jail? No,” Durbin said. “Are these circumstances that are likely to re-occur? No.”
Fuhr said that granting Brewer probation would “deprecate the seriousness” of the offense and would not be a deterrent to others.
Brewer was given credit 241 days already served in the Rock Island County Jail. He will get day-for-day credit on his prison sentence.
After Friday's sentencing hearing, Rock Island County State’s Attorney John McGehee said he thought the maximum sentence of 14 years was appropriate in this case.
“The court did what the court thought was fair and just,” he said.
Eli’s grandmother, Angela Segura, expressed her frustration with the sentence and said she will work to change the law to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.
“This is tragic,” she said. “This is a walk in the park for him. We still have to live. We still have to go on.”