Isaac Matthew Hernandez

Isaac Matthew Hernandez

CALDWELL — Those who knew Isaac Hernandez’s son said the baby looked “miserable” during his short 3-month life.

Hernandez, 26, of Nampa, was sentenced Wednesday to 27 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to three counts of felony injury to a child related to the abuse against his infant son.

The boy died after the abuse, but because an autopsy couldn’t determine a cause of death, Hernandez was not directly connected to the death. Among other injuries, the baby suffered 26 rib fractures, four fractures in his legs, mouth and lip injuries and significant bruising.

District Judge George Southworth sentenced Hernandez to 27 years with seven years fixed.

Hernandez pleaded guilty through an Alford plea to three counts of felony injury to child. In exchange for his plea, two other felonies were dismissed. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence for a jury to convict him.

Canyon County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Erica Kallin said the boy was about to be 3 months old at the time of his death, stating that in those three months, the child knew nothing but pain, suffering and hunger.

The infant’s mother, who is in a state prison, was incarcerated when she had the baby and when the abuse occurred. The child was left in Hernandez’s custody while the mother was incarcerated.

Kallin said multiple people offered to help feed, clothe, baby sit or take the baby, and Hernandez repeatedly told them he didn’t need help.

Hernandez was accused of grabbing and twisting or yanking on the infant’s legs, causing the fractures to his lower extremities. Bruising was also found on the baby’s hands, wrists, penis and face as a result of grabbing, pinching or striking, according to the prosecution. The baby’s severely chapped lips were a sign of dehydration.

In addition to the physical injuries, Hernandez is accused of failing to appropriately feed the child, as the boy was malnourished and not growing at the standard rate for a child his age.

Hernandez has repeatedly claimed that other people injured the child over a period of time, but that he felt responsible for not stopping it.

Kallin argued that other people had expressed concern about the baby’s injuries and his weight. In November 2014, the Department of Health and Welfare received an anonymous complaint that Hernandez’s son was being shaken, but without actually seeing the baby, Kallin said the complaint was dismissed.

While the prosecution acknowledged some cases of children with broken bones are child abuse cases in which a parent became frustrated and injured the child. But Kallin said the fact that Hernandez’s son also had bruising on his penis proved it was an injury of torture, not frustration.

Multiple people who knew Hernandez were interviewed during the investigation into the death and reported that they thought the baby was neglected, or reported seeing Hernandez either scream at the child or be “cold” toward his son, according to the prosecution. Others said they worried because they couldn’t get the baby to laugh or smile.

“(A child) shouldn’t, at 3 months old, look like they’ve given up on life,” Kallin told the judge.

Hernandez did not make a statement in court, but did write a letter to the judge. Southworth said in court that Hernandez maintained he did not abuse the child.

Multiple letters were submitted to the court stating that Hernandez thought the child was a nuisance, Southworth said in court.

“This is a case that cries out for a need for society to be protected,” the judge said.

Prior to sentencing, Southworth said this was the saddest and worst case of child abuse he had ever seen in more than 30 years of practicing law.

“It does not appear that this child had even a day of joy in his life,” Southworth said.

Ruth Brown is the public safety and digital first reporter. Contact her at 465-8105 or rbrown@idahopress.com. Follow @RuthBrownNews.