An Idaho Falls man who caused permanent brain damage to his son was sentenced to prison Thursday.
Stanley Gage Scruggs, 24, was arrested in August after taking the child to a pediatrician who discovered the victim’s injuries. Scruggs was charged with felony injury to a child.
According to court records, the 3-month-old victim had a fractured skull, a broken ankle and ribs, and bleeding on his brain.
Bonneville County Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Dewey said Thursday the child had suffered permanent brain damage, loss of vision in one of his eyes and partial paralysis. A shunt was placed in the baby’s head to relieve fluid buildup.
Though Defense Attorney John Thomas argued a rider program would be better to help Scruggs change his behavior, District Judge Joel Tingey sided with Dewey and said the crime warranted time in prison. He sentenced Scruggs to a minimum of four years in prison and six years indeterminate.
The victim’s mother gave an impact statement telling Tingey she feared for her son’s safety if Scruggs was released. She described him as “possessive” and “jealous,” and said he seemed to have plausible explanations when she noticed bruises on their son.
According to the mother, Scruggs’ explanation of events, that he came home intoxicated, shook the baby for crying, then put him to bed before passing out, doesn’t fully explain the victim’s injuries.
Scruggs originally denied shaking the baby, and told law enforcement he started taking anger management after the birth to prevent himself from being abusive.
“His own son’s life depended on him telling the truth so that they knew how to take care of him, and he still couldn’t man up to it,” the mother said.
The victim’s grandmother also gave an impact statement. The grandparents took custody of the victim after the incident came under investigation by Child Protective Services. Though Scruggs was accused of causing the injuries, the victim’s mother was also not allowed to be alone with him during the investigation.
The grandmother said the victim was showing signs of developmental delay and had missed milestones for an infant.
“I don’t feel that Stanley is a bad person, but I do feel that he needs to get help for what happened,” the grandmother said.
Thomas acknowledged the seriousness of his client’s actions, saying the day of the incident was, for Scruggs, “the worst day of his life.”
“There is nothing that can take back what happened that particular night,” Thomas said. “This little boy is going to grow up with problems.”
Thomas said a rider program could do more to change Scruggs’ behavior. He also said the charge is Scruggs’ first felony.
Dewey argued, however, the victim’s injuries were too serious for a rider sentence.
“He has caused great harm, and that harm deserves a reaction from the court greater than a retained jurisdiction,” Dewey said. The prosecutor also said he was looking to file restitution for the victim’s medical bills and ongoing costs related to his injuries.
Scruggs gave a brief statement apologizing for his actions.
In handing down his sentence, Tingey cited the mother’s statement that Scruggs should have been the one to protect the victim.
“I could pronounce the maximum sentence of 10 years, and then in 10 years you get to get on with your life, but that’s not true for the child,” Tingey said. “He’s going to have to live the rest of his life with the consequences of your actions.”