Man who shook baby to death sentenced

An Atascadero man sentenced Thursday to 15 years to life for shaking his baby to death expressed remorse during an emotional hearing.

The baby’s mother and her family also expressed feelings of pain and suffering over the killing of the child.Judge Michael Duffy sentenced 27-year-old Kelly Dewayne Lavinge in San Luis Obispo Superior Court to 15 years to life in state prison for his conviction of second-degree murder.

Lavinge entered his plea of no contest in August, acknowledging that he shook his 3-month-old son Isaiah to death after the boy vomited March 16, 2009.

“I want to say to you all that I’m very sorry,” Lavinge said. “He was my child, too. I made a mistake. I never wanted this to happen in my life. I pray for my child.”

Jasmine Harris, the baby’s mother, expressed her anguish before Lavinge was sentenced, saying repeatedly that she couldn’t hold on to her anger.

“I can’t hold on to the anger of having to watch Isaiah slowly die in my arms after six long weeks of pain and suffering,” Harris said. “I may no longer be angry, but I will be forever changed.”

Leatha Harris, the boy’s grandmother, said the death has impacted the family, including Isaiah’s twin brother Elijah, who will grow up without his “womb mate by his own father’s hands.”

The grandmother and Jasmine Harris’ sister, Olivia, have helped care for Elijah.

“Because of Kelly’s actions, my life is very different than I imagined it would be,” Leatha Harris said. “I never thought I would have to helplessly stand by as my daughter Jasmine’s life was torn apart.”

Jasmine Harris’ father, Timothy Jerome Harris, said that he also wasn’t angry at Lavinge, saying, “I feel for you.”

“That little man needs a dad, and I’ll be as close to his daddy as I can,” Harris said. “But you will get out of prison one day, and I hope you change in you what made you do what you did.”

Lavinge admitted to police that the newborn had vomited up food and that he shook the boy in response. The child spent six weeks being treated for brain hemorrhaging and other injuries before he died.

Lavinge’s lawyer, Pierre Blahnik, argued in a court filing that “the offense in this case was an unplanned, unintended and uncharacteristic act.”

Blahnik said in his filing that his client tested slightly above the level for mild retardation and admitted responsibility.

But prosecutor Gregory Devitt argued that Lavinge initially told a doctor at Twin Cities Community Hospital that he didn’t know what happened, and his initial statements to authorities weren’t consistent.