A 23-year-old Peoria man was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison for violently shaking his 6-month-old nephew in 2011.
Benjamin J. Fuller, of 3431 W. Oakcrest Drive apologized and said he regretted hurting the infant. Fuller told Peoria County Circuit Judge Kevin Lyons he didn’t realize shaking the child could lead to problems later in life.
Fuller’s brother, John Fuller, took the stand and asked for the minimum sentence — six years — for his brother, pointing out to Lyons that his brother, while having character flaws, had a good heart.
Lyons seemed touched by the brother’s comments but noted that judges must look at the crime and sentence accordingly, not just consider what the victim in the matter wants.
In December, Benjamin Fuller pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated battery to a child as part of a deal with Peoria County prosecutors that saw lesser counts of aggravated battery and reckless conduct dismissed. The deal had a 15-year cap on any prison term. Without the deal, he would have faced up to 30 years in prison.
Assistant State’s Attorney Donna Cruz said Benjamin Fuller was watching his nephew in mid-December 2011, while the infant’s parents were away training with the military. He told police he got angry with the child and, at some point during the week, he shook the boy and “put him down on the floor,” causing the child to bang his head on the ground.
The parents got alarmed when Benjamin Fuller told them the infant was vomiting. A check by doctors revealed signs of abusive head trauma or what used to be called shaken baby syndrome.
Benjamin Fuller must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.
Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @andykravetz.