ELYRIA — A Lorain mother who left her baby alone in a garage while she traveled to Pennsylvania over Thanksgiving weekend was sentenced Monday to four years in prison.
Heather Heck, 24, tearfully apologized before county Common Pleas Judge Edward Zaleski while the father of her now-1-year-old son, Samuel, and his family looked on. Samuel was not in the courtroom.
“My child did not deserve what happened,” Heck said.
Heck left her then-2-month-old baby — whom she described Monday as “my pride, my joy and my happiness” — in a broken-down SUV in a West 14th Street garage when she left for Pennsylvania on Nov. 24, 2006. The boy was covered only by a blanket when he was found in a laundry basket. He was covered in bed sores, dehydrated and starving, police reported, when he was found by a neighbor Nov. 26 — the same day Heck returned from her trip.
Heck had kept the pregnancy secret from everyone — routinely leaving the newborn home alone while she worked.
Wesley Cales, Samuel’s father, said he didn’t know why Heck didn’t tell him she was pregnant.
“I just wish she would have told me,” he said. “I was planning on marrying her.”
Rayan Cales, Samuel’s grandmother, said her family would have accepted what happened and still loved the baby and Heck.
“I don’t know why she did what she did, because I loved her just like a daughter,” she said.
Heck said she would be punished every day of her life for what she had done.
Heck’s attorney, James Barilla, had asked Zaleski to delay the sentencing Monday, saying Heck had told her mental health counselor that she had left the child in someone else’s care while she traveled.
But Assistant County Prosecutor Peter Gauthier said detectives hadn’t been able to find any evidence that the woman existed.
County Prosecutor Dennis Will said investigators did “everything humanly possible” to verify Heck’s claims, which were revealed after she pleaded guilty to two counts of child endangering in June.
Neither the Cales family nor Heck’s family wanted to comment as they left the courtroom after the sentencing.
Will said he believes Heck needed to serve prison time for her crime.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation,” he said. “But a small baby was placed at risk, and I believe incarceration is called for.”
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.