URBANA — A Champaign County judge on Monday gave a strong rebuke to a repentant St. Joseph man convicted of leaving his infant daughter in a soybean field for more than 15 hours in 2015.
In handing down an 18-year sentence, Judge Jason Bohm told Thomas Boitnott that his daughter Karma, now 4, should be an adult when he gets out of prison and thus able to decide herself if her father is a part of her life.
Monday was the second sentencing in the nearly 4-year-old case.
In March 2016, Judge Tom Difanis found Boitnott guilty but mentally ill of attempted murder and child abduction, going against a psychiatrist's report that supported a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity. Difanis' sentence was reversed by an appellate court on a procedural matter, and in March of this year, Bohm made the same finding: guilty but mentally ill. That led to Monday's sentencing, where Bohm told Boitnott his life was breaking apart on June 11, 2015, when he took his then-6-month-old daughter from her St. Joseph apartment and abandoned her in a soybean field in a rural part of town.
"When officers pleaded with you to tell them where she was and tried to get you to look at her picture, you just flipped them off and told them to get out of here," Bohm said. "You were obligated to protect her, and you just let her sit there for hours."
Boitnott, 27, read a written statement to the judge for about 10 minutes, repeating a claim that he suffered from a "delusional disorder" that day. He said while he has been in prison, his mental illness has gone into remission.
"Some view me as a monster who intended on extinguishing the life of his precious little girl," Boitnott said. "But those who know me beg to differ."
Boitnott's statement prompted Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz to give the judge a recent letter from Karma's mother, Kayla Reifsteck, who wrote that she wants to move on from the ordeal and from Boitnott.
"I'm sure the next step in this process is going to be another review by the appellate court, and we'll see what they say," Rietz said. "I think for purposes of the record and making clear the points the judge rested his opinion on, I think he's done that. So I'm confident the appellate court is not going to find he abused his discretion."
Rietz asked for a 20-year sentence, the same as the one originally imposed by Difanis. Assistant Public Defender Matt Ham asked for 10 years. The guidelines on the charges call for between six and 30 years, with a requirement to serve 85 percent. Boitnott was given credit for nearly four years served.
Karma's family said she's doing well.