AUGUSTA, Maine — A young father who violently shook his 6-month-old daughter when her fussing interrupted his video game pleaded guilty Friday in a case that drew national attention because of a court battle over an order to not resuscitate the infant.
Prosecutors say Kevin Peaslee, 22, was alone with his daughter in their Augusta apartment in December when he became frustrated and "lost it," violently shaking her.
The child, who's now in foster care, is a spastic quadriplegic, cannot see or hear, must be fed through a tube and has severe ongoing health problems. She's expected to suffer to a premature death.
On Friday, Peaslee pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault. Under an agreement, two other assault counts were dropped, and prosecutors will recommend a seven-year sentence next month.
In a statement read by Peaslee's lawyer, his family said a "split-second mistake" had tragic results.
"Kevin loves his daughter and has accepted responsibility for what happened to her. Whatever sentence the court imposes will not change the sorrow, remorse and blame that Kevin will carry with him the whole of his life," the statement said.
The attorney general's office could upgrade the charges against Peaslee if the child dies, Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Friday. She couldn't comment on specifics of the infant's condition but she's "in pain 24-7."
After shaking his daughter, Peaslee was stopped in his car by law enforcement while on his way to the Burger King, where his girlfriend and the girl's mother, Virginia Trask, worked, court documents say. The baby was taken to the hospital, where the father told the pediatrician that she "was wet and accidently slipped from his hands," according to the documents.
Trask had sued the state to lift a court-approved do-not-resuscitate decision on the infant that was imposed by a child welfare agency over the objections of the mother. Officials had said that life-saving measures in the event that the brain-injured baby stops breathing would only prolong her suffering.
But the agency backtracked last month and said that it would agree to abide by the mother's wishes. The Maine supreme court then dismissed the mother's appeal, saying the matter is now moot.
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