Man sentenced in son’s death

A Greenwood man will be sent to prison and rehabilitation after pleading guilty to killing his infant son.

Ian Defenderfer, 21, pleaded guilty and received the maximum sentence Thursday. Judge Cynthia Emkes sentenced Defenderfer to 26 years in prison and four years of probation under a plea of guilty, but mentally ill.

Having Defenderfer considered guilty, but mentally ill, means he will be sent to a prison with mental health professionals who can assist him with therapy while he is incarcerated.

In October, Defenderfer pleaded guilty to battery resulting in death on a child younger than 14 years old and aggravated battery, and the two charges were required by law to be merged into one, Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper said. Defenderfer was originally facing 75 years in prison if found guilty on both charges.

This week, defense attorney Karen Laine asked for Defenderfer to be considered guilty, but mentally ill, so he could receive better mental health treatment and continue rehabilitation while in prison.

Last year, Defenderfer was taking care of his 2-month-old child and the baby would not stop crying, according to police reports. Defenderfer told police he had shaken the baby, but did not think he was harming the child. Defenderfer called 911 after he noticed the baby’s breathing had slowed, and the infant was taken to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. The child died two days later, police reports said.

An autopsy determined the infant died from blunt force trauma to the head and also had signs of shaken baby syndrome. The baby also had bruising and healing on his head from previous injuries, police reports said.

Defenderfer was not mentally prepared for parenthood and could not handle taking care of a child, Emkes said. A year ago, after he was arrested, the court ordered a doctor to evaluate Defenderfer. The doctor found him to be mentally ill, Emkes said.

When Defenderfer was 15 years old, a mental health evaluation found his communication, living and social skills had developed to the same ability as children between the ages of 4 and 12, she said. Defenderfer was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder and showed similar traits to someone with autism. He also was diagnosed with expressive language disorder and oppositional defiance disorder, which includes irritable mood, argumentative behavior and aggression, Emkes said.

“Sadly, what happened, really four years later, we have a defendant that’s a child basically having a child and raising a child,” Emkes said. “And he was barely able to take care of himself, really, let alone try to take care of another.”

Denise Defenderfer said that her son had been in counseling since second grade.

Family of the mother of the baby decided not to testify, deputy prosecutor Carrie Miles said.