By Ed Runyan
Christopher L. Cline, 26, of Mauro Circle, has been sentenced to three years in prison and three years’ probation for causing blindness and brain damage by shaking his 6-week-old son in 2009.
Cline admitted to shaking the boy Nov. 6, 2009, in a Warren home. Later that night, after the baby had a seizure, the baby was taken to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with retinal hemorrhage in both eyes and brain damage, said Diane Barber, assistant Trumbull County prosecutor.
Cline pleaded guilty in July to child endangering, which carried a possible penalty of eight years. He and the prosecutor agreed to the 3-year sentence.
Cline didn’t give an explanation or comment before sentencing by Judge W. Wyatt McKay of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, but the baby’s maternal grandmother, Renee Allen, spoke on behalf of the boy, now almost 4 years old.
She said the boy, who Allen and her husband now care for, couldn’t speak for himself in 2009 and can’t speak for himself now, she said.
When the baby was in the hospital after the assault with brain and eye injuries, tubes in his body and other medical devices attached, Cline stood by the child’s bed, Allen said.
“Would [the boy] have said ‘Please don’t hurt me again? What did I do wrong? I’m just a 6-week-old baby. I can’t fight back. I’m helpless.’”
She continued, “Chris, you changed our lives forever that day when you took a perfectly healthy 6-week-old baby and took it upon yourself to hurt him, which has caused permanent damage to [the boy] forever.”
Allen has produced a brochure and plans to lead two types of classes on Shaken Baby Syndrome — one for families having to cope with the consequences of it and one for young parents to educate them on the consequences of shaking a baby or toddler.
“It is OK to ask for help,” Allen said in her brochure. “No matter how stressed or angry you feel, NEVER SHAKE or HIT a baby. This can cause brain damage, blindness, bleeding in the brain or death.”