URBANA — A Champaign man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for injuries to his infant daughter that left her with a ruptured esophagus, broken ribs, bruised organs and internal bleeding.
Judge Harry Clem sentenced Dwayne S. Williams, 21, on Thursday. Williams was convicted on Oct. 25 for aggravated battery to a child for injuries on 2-month-old Mariyah Brothern on Nov. 2, 2012.
Williams will receive credit for 415 days already served. When he completes his prison term, Williams will then serve three years of supervised release.
Clem also ordered Williams to submit specimens of blood, saliva or tissue to the Illinois State Police, and he recommended that Williams receive drug treatment and counseling while he is in prison.
“I am sorry for what happened,” Williams told the judge.
According to testimony, Williams and the child’s mother, Shariya Brothern, were living with Williams’ mother and his sister in an apartment in the 2400 block of North Neil Street in Champaign. Also living with them was their older son.
On the day of the crime, Mariyah, who was born prematurely, was about 2 months old.
Mariyah’s aunt, Latesha Williams, called 911 to report that the baby was spitting up blood. The frantic call, which was played during the trial, featured arguing and screaming in the background between Dwayne Williams and Brothern.
Dwayne Williams was not present when police and paramedics arrived.
He went to the Champaign police station on the following Monday and gave a videotaped statement to Investigator Joe Johnston.
Williams denied having intentionally hurt his daughter but agreed with a scenario put forth by Johnston that Williams may have squeezed the baby too hard out of frustration with her frequent crying.
“I just probably held her too tight,” he eventually told Johnston. “If I did that ... I’m sorry.”
Williams admitted to Johnston that he had been outside at the complex drinking vodka with friends and came into the apartment to find Brothern passed out and vomiting in their bed. She had also been drinking earlier.
Williams said he heard the baby crying and picked her up from a bassinet to find that she was throwing up blood. He then went to his mother’s bedroom to seek her help and that’s when his sister called 911.
Williams maintained he did not know what happened to cause the bleeding.
Assistant State’s Attorney Scott Larson argued that Williams should receive a sentence of 20 years in prison.
“Mariyah should be free to grow up without the possibility of this happening again,” Larson said. “By the time he gets out, Mariyah will be an adult woman.”
Defense attorney Alfred Ivy of Urbana argued for a sentence of six to 10 years in prison.
“We have a horrific, tragic incident that took place in a moment of passion,” Ivy said. “People make mistakes in an instant, and this is one of those things.
“The child is doing much better now. She’s healing, growing.”
Clem opted for a 15-year sentence. The judge said that Williams’ actions indicated that he may have cared more about himself than his own child.
“The parents were not providing the type of formula that had been directed by the doctor,” Clem said. “But Mr. Williams was able to indulge himself of an illegal substance — cannabis.”