A Springfield man has been sentenced to 11 years in prison in the death of his six-week-old son who was found unresponsive at the Drake Motel.
Brian Lee Spencer Jr., 21, pleaded guilty earlier this year to involuntary manslaughter. He received the maximum sentence from Clark County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard O’Neill during a hearing Tuesday.
“This defendant is responsible for inflicting the injuries that killed Liam,” Clark County Prosecutor Andy Wilson said in court.
The baby, Liam Spencer, was with his mother, Shania Delawder, during the day before he died, Wilson said. Witnesses told investigators the baby seemed to be in good health at the time, he said.
Then Brian Spencer and Delawder checked into the Drake Motel that evening, Wilson said, and Delawder left to shop at a grocery store down the street.
Spencer then huffed paint, he said, and investigators believe Brian Spencer became angry when the baby defecated on the bed and the suspect then injured him.
“We believe that that is what set this defendant off,” Wilson said, “and he does something, what we don’t know. But it was severe and it was violent and it caused the injuries that ultimately resulted in Liam’s death.”
Liam Spencer suffered a broken skull and bruises, he said. When Delawder returned to the room, he said, the couple chose not to seek medical attention despite Brian Spencer telling investigators he heard him gasping for air.
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“We see this in so many of the cases that come before the court,” he said.
The parents worried Children’s Services would take the child away if they called 9-1-1, Wilson said.
“When they get up in the morning the baby’s dead,” he said.
Brian Spencer hasn’t shown remorse for his actions, he said, and was only worried about protecting himself.
The father disagreed in the statement he made to the judge.
“Since the day of my son Liam’s death, I feel like I’ve been living a total nightmare,” he said. “Liam was important to us all.”
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A family member of Liam Spencer told the court she and other family members had worried about the infant.
“From the day Liam was born, we feared for his safety,” the family member said. “We knew it would come to this but we never imagined Liam would be beaten to death.”
Delawder has also been charged with involuntary manslaughter and is awaiting trial.
The Springfield News-Sun digs into important stories about public safety issues in Clark and Champaign counties, including recent stories on an increase in child abuse and the drug overdose epidemic.