FRANKLIN — A Franklin, Indiana, man was sentenced to 30 years in prison for throwing his infant daughter in a moment of frustration, which led to her death.
Christopher Potts, 22, was convicted of battery resulting in death of a child under 14 in a March jury trial in Johnson County Superior Court. Judge Lance Hamner gave Potts the maximum sentence.
“You killed your baby girl,” Hamner said. “It can’t be justified by fatigue, frustration or youth.”
Emergency medical technicians were called on Sept. 3, 2015, to the apartment where Potts was living with his girlfriend, Annabelle Anderson, and their infant daughter, Felicity Anderson. She was almost 7 months old.
The baby wasn’t breathing and had formula coming out of her mouth and nose, Potts told medics in a 911 call. She was rushed to the hospital and died shortly after.
The autopsy revealed the baby had several contusions on the right side of her face and a hemorrhage from the bridge of her nose to her forehead. She had several skull fractures.
“This injury was consistent with [the baby] being thrown down,” court documents state.
In interviews with police the next day, Potts revealed he had picked the baby up because she’d been crying, then dropped her back into the crib because he had to go to the bathroom. When he came back, he said the baby had turned blue. He tried performing CPR, as did the medics, but it was too late.
Potts had been under a lot of stress at the time, he said. He and his girlfriend were struggling financially. Anderson was working night shifts at Waffle House. Her father had just moved in and was not contributing but still eating all their food, Potts said. On the eve of the incident with the baby, the couple had argued about money.
After officers explained the baby's injuries reflected being thrown, not dropped, Potts admitted he’d been frustrated and had taken it out on Felicity, according to court documents. Beginning to cry, he said he had thrown her onto the mattress.
“How hard do you think you threw her on the bed?” an officer asked Potts.
“Too hard,” Potts said.
During his Friday sentencing hearing, Potts sat silently, shackled at the hands and ankles, beside his attorney.
Potts declined to speak during the sentencing because he maintained his innocence, his attorney said.
Anderson sat in the front row of the courtroom. Although she wanted to address the court, she couldn’t bear to speak. She gave a written statement to the prosecutor, who read it aloud.
“I tried to be a good mom, but I will never get to celebrate the milestones that most parents get to have with their children,” Anderson said in the letter. “Felicity didn’t deserve this.”
When delivering the sentence, Hamner pointed out Potts had not expressed remorse except for his tears during his interview with police. Hamner also said although Potts had not intended to kill his daughter any kind of violence against children is indefensible.
As a father, Hamner said, Potts’ job was to protect and nurture his daughter. He did the opposite.
“I don’t think you are a monster,” Hamner said. “But I do think you did a monstrous thing.”