An Edmonton man who pleaded guilty in the death of a baby will spend two more years in jail and serve three years’ probation.
Brandon Calahoo, 22, was sentenced to five years and eight and a half months on Friday after pleading guilty to criminal negligence causing death. After taking into account time already served, it means Calahoo will spend a further two years behind bars.
The judge said this decision was made to make sure Calahoo had the best shot at rehabilitation opportunities.
On July 27, 2016, Calahoo was charged with aggravated assault after a two-month-old girl was taken to hospital with serious injuries.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Calahoo was dating the baby’s mom. The two lived in a basement suite in northeast Edmonton with the little girl, named Raelyn.
On July 25, 2016, Raelyn was crying and it woke Calahoo. The statement says he “shook Raelyn with both hands by the body and the head.” He then left the infant in her crib, even though she was unresponsive.
Later that morning, the mother was concerned that the baby was still unresponsive, but Calahoo told her to leave the baby. The mom tried to feed Raelyn, but she wouldn’t eat and the baby was put back to bed.
At around 11:30 a.m. that day, the mom left to meet a friend. She described Raelyn’s symptoms to her friend, who became concerned. They went home, got the baby and went to the Stollery Children’s Hospital.
Initially, Calahoo and Raelyn’s mom told doctors that Raelyn had suffered seizures. The statement describes Raelyn as “mottled and had bicycling movement of her arms and legs.”
She also had swelling on her right eye and unequal pupils. Raelyn was given medicine to combat seizures, was intubated, put on a respirator and directly admitted to the PICU.
On July 27, Calahoo told a social worker that he remembered that Raelyn was crying and he held her with both hands when he had an arm spasm and dropped Raelyn’s head, which hit the crib. He then said he shook her, but not hard.
The next day, doctors determined that if Raelyn survived, she would have severe neurological impairment. She was taken off her respirator that day but continued to breathe on her own. On Aug. 3, the family and medical teams decided to remove her intravenous nutrition, and fluids were withdrawn.
The little girl died on Aug. 8, spurring homicide detectives to become involved in the case.
An autopsy was performed the next day, but the medical examiner wasn’t able to make a determination about the cause of death. Raelyn’s brain and eyes were forwarded to a neurological pathologist who determined her cause of death to be cranial trauma caused by acceleration/deceleration and rotational motion.
The cause of death was ruled to be criminal.
Charges against Calahoo were upgraded to second-degree murder and failing to provide the necessaries of life.
READ MORE: An Edmonton man who admitted to shaking a baby has pleaded guilty to lesser charge of criminal negligence causing death.
He pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death in April 2018.
The Crown was seeking a sentence of between eight and 10 years’ imprisonment. The defence was asking for three and a half years, which was already served in pre-trial custody. The defence also asked that Calahoo be placed on probation for three years.
“Mr. Calahoo is a young man with no support system, and only disjointed educational and employment experiences,” Justice J.M Ross explained in her written decision. “He will require supervision and intervention in order to achieve successful reintegration into the community.”
Ross noted Calahoo’s troubled childhood that was highlighted in the sentencing decision. The reports referenced Calahoo growing up in a household with alcohol and domestic abuse, which resulted in his father being arrested and jailed. His dad later took his own life when Calahoo was 12 years old, according to the justice’s written decision.
“This death, as well as the death of his older sister from an overdose in 2005, had a tremendous impact on Mr. Calahoo,” Ross’s decision read.
The judge also referenced Calahoo being diagnosed with a major depressive disorder, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“An attempted treatment plan was not successful,” Ross wrote.
“Mr. Calahoo quit school and ran away from home. Mr. Calahoo’s relationship with his mother soured at this time. His mother has tried to support Mr. Calahoo since his arrest, but their relationship remains strained and Mr. Calahoo is largely estranged from other family members.”
Calahoo’s sentencing hearing began at 10 a.m. at Alberta Provincial Court in Edmonton.
— With files from Kirby Bourne, 630 CHED and Emily Mertz, Global News