Man gets 7-30 years for abusing baby — (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Friday, July 06, 2007

A man who claimed he was mentally ill when he abused his newborn — breaking her leg, smashing her head into a sink and shocking her with a cattle prod — will spend up to 30 years in prison.

Brandon Alan Austill, 21, of Somerset, was sentenced Tuesday to 7 to 30 years in prison for abuse that started when his daughter was just 4 days old.

“It is clear from the facts in this case that you systematically tortured this child over six weeks,” Somerset County Judge John M. Cascio said.

According to authorities, Mr. Austill admitted he smashed the infant’s head into a sink and table, twice used an electric prod on her when she wouldn’t stop crying and bent her leg over his shoulder until he heard it snap. The abuse took place last fall.

“I’ll never be able to take that back. I’ll always love my daughter,” Mr. Austill said.  “There’s no way I can make an excuse for what happened.”

Mr. Austill pleaded guilty but mentally ill in May to aggravated assault, child endangerment and other offenses. He said he was taking antidepressants and anti-hallucinogens at the time.

Mr. Austill suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from abuse he suffered as a child, along with bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia, psychologist Frank Schmidt testified. He will receive psychiatric care in prison.

“Certainly, this is your chance and this is probably your last chance,” Judge Cascio said.

The child’s mother has not been charged. It was not immediately known if the girl remains in foster care or has been returned to her mother.