The 25-year-old Lorain man was convicted in May on charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering after four days of deliberation. The jury deadlocked on charges of murder, felonious assault and a second count of child endangering.
“This is not a good day for you,” Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski told Brassfield while handing down the sentence.
Desiree, the daughter of Ciara Wade, died of injuries, including a fractured skull, in May 2010. The exact circumstances of the child’s death remain unclear.
Brassfield, who was babysitting Desiree as her mother worked as a home health care worker, told Betleski that he was a good father to his own three children, and “the only father she (Desiree) had.”
“I don’t put children in danger,” Brassfield told the judge.
Brassfield could have faced as many as 10 years in prison, but Betleski said the sentence was based on the fact jurors were not certain whether it was Brassfield or Ciara Wade who caused the fatal injuries.
Brassfield’s lack of a criminal record and “his having been a successful father to his other children” were mitigating circumstances against a harsher sentence, Betleski said, while noting that Brassfield knew about the child’s injuries “and did nothing to give the child a chance to live” by seeing that she received prompt medical care.
“Immediate medical care was the only way a child could survive” such injuries, Betleski said.
Mike Stepanik, Brassfield’s newly hired attorney, said he intends to appeal his client’s earlier conviction.
The defense has 30 days to file a notice of appeal with the 9th District Court of Appeals.
County Prosecutor Dennis Will said by phone Friday that his office has not dismissed the charges the jury split on during Brassfield’s trial but did not anticipate going forward with efforts for a new trial.
“If for some reason the Court of Appeals were to overturn the convictions on the charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering, then those counts would still be in effect and could be pursued if it went to another trial,” Will said.
If the charges were dismissed, they would have to be taken before a grand jury again, Will said.
During Brassfield’s trial, his former attorney, Michael Feldman, suggested Wade left her job to return to the couple’s sparsely furnished apartment where she caused Desiree’s fatal injuries as the child slept.
Feldman filed a motion for a new trial after Brassfield’s conviction, but Betleski denied the motion, which was based on a letter Feldman said he was unaware of until the jury had begun deliberating Brassfield’s fate.
Written by Ciara Wade, the letter discussed her relationship with Brassfield, and the approaching birth of another child. Assistant County Prosecutor Laura Dezort stated in court documents at the time the letter was not enough evidence to warrant a new trial.
Betleski advised Brassfield “don’t blow it” by failing to report to the Lorain County Jail by 5 p.m. Wednesday, where he will be held until he is transported to prison. If he fails to show up Dec. 26, it could “significantly decrease” Brassfield’s chances for early release after serving five years of his seven-year sentence, Betleski said.
Desiree Wade “never got that five years, and she will never be able to live the life you will be able to live,” Betleski told Brassfield.