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Fort Carson soldier gets 3 years in death of infant son

May 14, 2013 Updated: May 14, 2013 at 7:45 am
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A Fort Carson soldier received a three-year prison sentence Monday after prosecutors say he waited an hour before calling 911 to seek help for his dying infant son.

Pfc. Ian Smith, 24, stood straight and his wife wept quietly behind him while Col. Timothy Grammel announced the sentence, which included a demotion to the rank of private and a dishonorable discharge.

It was twice as long as the 18-month prison term suggested by Smith's attorneys.

Army prosecutors Monday sought a 15-year sentence, though the terms of his plea deal would have capped that at 10 years.

During a hearing, Smith told the military judge he felt "deep regret and guilt? for the death of his 2-month-old son, Tanner Smith, on June 10, 2011. Smith pleaded guilty last week to involuntary manslaughter.

He waited an hour before calling paramedics while Tanner vomited and gasped for air - both signs of head trauma - after Smith claimed to fall down a set of stairs while holding the boy.

Smith called his wife and held off calling 911 until she came home, said Capt. Will Rothstein, a prosecutor. Tanner arrived at the hospital cold and not breathing, said Jonathan Mihok, an emergency room physician at Evans Army Community Hospital.

Smith also pleaded guilty to drug use on several occasions after testing positive for marijuana 13 times in a span of 16 months. He also tested positive for hydrocodone, said Capt. Malcolm Wilderson, another prosecutor.

But Smith also pleaded for leniency from the military judge. Four months ago, his wife gave birth to their second child, another son.

"I also feel like God gave me a second chance to be a father,? Smith said.

Defense attorneys sought to portray Smith as a new father still haunted by a turbulent childhood - one that included a trip through the North Carolina foster system because his dad moved out and his mother was arrested for drug use. She died when he was 17.

Prosecutors honed in on lies he told to his wife and doctors shortly after Tanner died, including one statement that a dog jumped on the boy's bouncy chair, causing the infant to fall off, according to a charge sheet.

"He does so (lies) because he cares what others will think of him, not the best way to save his son,? Rothstein said. "... Everyone but Pfc. Smith rushed to assist Tanner.?

Tanner was one of 10 children killed in 2011 in El Paso County, and he was one of two children killed that year on Fort Carson.

Shortly before Smith took the stand, his wife, Jessica Smith, said she still trusts Ian Smith to raise their newborn son.

"It will be really hard,? she said. "But we'll be waiting for him when he gets out.?

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Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

Twitter @jakobrodgers

Facebook Jakob Rodgers

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