Dad gets 5 to 10 for shaking baby — (The Courier Times)

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The Courier Times

Posted on October 13, 2011        

by Laurie Mason  Schroeder Staff Writer Calkins Media, Inc.

A Lower Makefield dad will serve five to 10 years behind bars for violently shaking his 3-month-old son, seriously injuring the infant.

Bucks County Judge Diane Gibbons conceded that Milo Bodnar, 46, didn’t intentionally hurt his baby in May, but said she agreed with the jury’s verdict that he acted with extreme recklessness.

She noted that Bodnar, who was undergoing treatment for mental health problems at the time of the incident, shouldn’t have been caring for the child in the first place.

“You were on medication for anxiety and depression at a time when you were left alone with a screaming baby. I know you didn’t try to kill your son, despite the fact that you almost did,” the judge said.

A jury in July found Bodnar guilty of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child. Sentencing was postponed until this week for a pre-sentence investigation.

Bodnar was alone with the baby in the apartment he shared with his girlfriend, the child’s mother, on May 13, 2010. She called home to check on the infant, and Bodnar said the little boy wasn’t breathing. The child was rushed first to St. Mary Medical Center in Middletown, then The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he spent two weeks in intensive care.

Doctors found bleeding on the baby’s brain and behind his eyes, injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

Bodnar denied the charges. During the trial, his attorney called several high-powered medical experts to the stand who testified that the baby was injured at birth, not at the hands of his father.

But doctors and other witnesses told the jury that Bodnar initially confessed to shaking the baby, then later changed his story.

In court Wednesday, Bodnar stood by his account. While saying he wanted to take “full responsibility” for his actions, and that he respected the jury’s verdict, he insisted that he was innocent.

“I would never do anything to intentionally hurt my son,” he said.

Gibbons delivered the sentence before a courtroom packed with Bodnar’s supporters. His attorney, Matthew Wilkov, gave the judge SSRI Editor7 letters of support penned by Bodnar’s friends and family members.

The charges carried a mandatory minimum of five years behind bars because of the victim’s age. Wilkov urged the judge to not exceed the minimum, saying Bodnar wasn’t a danger to his son or the community.

“It was a reckless moment in time. It was not a contemplated criminal act,” he said. “I believe he will be a good father someday to his son.”

The child’s mother didn’t speak in court and asked that her name and the baby’s name not be published.

Bodnar must also serve five years of probation when he’s released from prison.

Deputy District Attorney Robin Twombly said Bodnar had to be held accountable for his actions, even if they weren’t intentional.

“He almost killed his child in a burst of anger and frustration,” Twombly said.

Twombly said the little boy has recovered from his injuries, although doctors cannot be sure yet if he’ll suffer any lasting effects from the brain hemorrhage.

Laurie Mason Schroeder: 215-694-7489; email: lmason@phillyBurbs.com;