Before a judge imposed a life sentence against him Monday in the beating death of his 4-year-old son, Jeremy Deonte Ralph declined to make a statement in court.
But the former airman didn't stay silent in jail, prosecutor Donna Billek said at Ralph's sentencing hearing, telling a judge he made a joking reference to having "one less baby mama."
"It's laughter to him - it doesn't mean anything at all," said Billek, who choked up while recounting Ralph's remark, which she said was captured in a recorded jail phone call.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Thomas Kelly Kane imposed an automatic life term against the 26-year-old father as relatives of victim Montana Glynn quietly wept in the gallery alongside the family's supporters. At an August trial, a jury determined that Ralph didn't intend to kill his child but took actions he knew were "practically certain" to result in the child's death - a required element for a conviction of first-degree murder by one in a position of trust.
Prosecutors relied in part on Ralph's own words in convincing the panel that he abused the boy.
In messages sent via text and a social media account, Ralph complained about Montana's behavior and told one friend he was "about to put hands and feet on him." The boy's mother, Jonte Glynn, reported that Ralph told her she was too soft and would need to start "punching" the toddler to instill discipline.
That talk of harsh physical treatment preceded Montana's mysterious death. He became unresponsive Dec. 14 while under Ralph's care, with the father calling 911 to claim he dozed off and awoke to find the boy unresponsive in a bathtub. Ralph had no convincing explanation for why Montana and the tub were both dry when emergency crews responded - or why small amounts of the boy's blood could be found in multiple locations throughout the family's apartment in the 2600 block of Jeffers Way.
An autopsy later determined Montana died of multiple blows and might have been strangled, an autopsy said. Ralph placed some of Montana's clothes into a washing machine in an attempt to conceal evidence, authorities alleged.
Ralph and Glenn met and had a brief relationship at Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska in 2011 but didn't see each other after Glynn was transferred to Colorado Springs.
She notified Ralph in 2014 that he was the father of her child, and in 2016 Ralph reached out to her saying he was at a crossroads and wanted to reunite with his son and play a role in raising him.
Within a month of Ralph's arrival, Glynn had to make the "agonizing" decision to remove her son from life support, Billek said.
Ralph's attorney, public defender Rose Roy, said her client maintains his innocence and plans to appeal.