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‘He took something that can never be replaced’: A mother confronts her infant’s killer in court

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 28/10/2016 Lindsey Bever
© GoFundMe

A mother in Upstate New York stood in a quiet courtroom, tearfully remembering her infant daughter and how she died.

“Her life was taken far too soon in a violent, malicious manner for no reason other than complete and utter selfishness,” Nicole Parker said as she read from a victim impact statement Wednesday.

The infant’s father, Nicholas D. Jones, was accused in March of attacking his daughter after admitting during a recorded confession that he had squeezed her, held her upside down and thrown her onto a couch.

Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan told the Post-Star at the time that the 3-week-old baby had sustained a serious head injury, a broken collarbone and ribs, and bruises over her body.

The infant, named Gabriella, died two days after the attack.

Jones, 25, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree earlier this month. On Wednesday, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison with five years’ supervision after his release; Jones was also required to waive his right to an appeal.

At the sentencing hearing Wednesday, Parker spoke about the first — and last — moments she got to spend with her daughter, reading her emotional statement, which was obtained by NBC affiliate WNYT.

A Warren County court official said the judge in the case has sealed the impact statement.

“Gabriella became my entire world,” Parker said in court. “I would hold her, sing to her, tell her how wonderful and perfect she was all the time, but as each day passed, I always told her how much I loved her and how special she was to not only me, but the rest of her family as well.”

In the early hours on March 28, Parker said, she was awakened by Jones, who told her “Gabby wasn’t moving, and she wasn’t breathing.”

“I panicked and tripped over myself trying to get out of the bedroom,” Parker said. “To pick up my 22-day-old baby and have her completely limp in my arms, and to not see a single breath come out of her was the scariest moment in that time of my life or so I thought. I waited for the ambulance to show up and watched her be taken out of my house to the ambulance while they sat in my driveway trying to work on her because she had lost a heartbeat.

“Later that morning, I was sitting in Glens Falls Hospital, being questioned by investigators because they said it was protocol. I didn’t know what was happening, I was scared and panicking the entire time trying to catch what little breath I had. We made the decision to have her Baptized at Glens Falls Hospital.”

Gabriella was transferred to Albany Medical Center, where she remained in critical condition.

Jones confessed — and would face a murder charge.

“While he sat behind bars, I sat in Albany Medical Center with my family and watched as my little girl was stuck on life support because of what he had done,” Parker said in court Wednesday.

“I watched as doctors and nurses came in to do testing on her to see if there was any brain activity. Every time she was moved to be changed, or cleaned up, her oxygen levels could drop. She was hooked up to a feeding tube, a breathing machine and had multiple IV needles in her head and legs. I had hoped and prayed so many times in Albany that she would be okay, that she would make it through this horrible time in her young, sweet life.”

Parker said Gabriella’s doctors soon started talking to her about whether she was prepared to remove her baby from life support.

“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my entire life,” she said. “Nicholas put me in the position where I had to choose whether to keep Gabriella on life support, or take her off of it.

“How do you make the choice of whether your only child lives or dies?”

In court Wednesday, Parker recounted the moment she said goodbye to her baby.

“The nurses at the hospital brought me in a rocking chair so I could hold her one last time and let her know how loved she was,” she said. “They took out her IVs and took off most of the wires as they put her in my arms.

“I rocked her back and forth while we listened to lullabies. While I was touching her sweet little face with tears in my eyes, I looked up on the monitor and everything was at zero.

“She had passed away.”

She added: “I couldn’t let her go, I didn’t want to. She was the most important thing in my life, she was everything to me and I couldn’t believe she was gone. I had everyone leave the room as I sat there holding my baby crying, hoping with all of my might that none of this was real.”——————-

A GoFundMe page set up earlier this year to help Gabriella’s family with funeral expenses stated “the nature of her death has left her family in pieces and our community in shock.”

At the sentencing hearing, a weeping Jones asked his attorney, Tucker Stanclift, to read a statement on his behalf.

In it, Jones talked about how much he loved his daughter and apologized to those he left in pain, according to WNYT.

“I hope one day I will be able to move past this nightmare,” Jones said, according to the Post Star.

As Jones, through his lawyer, went on to thank those who stood by him, people in the courtroom gasped, according to the newspaper.

Jones, in his statement, did not mention why he did what he did, said his attorney, on Thursday.

For Parker, Gabriella’s grieving mother, the idea the man who stole her daughter’s life will go on living his own is infuriating.

“What I find so very wrong about all of this,” she said in her statement, “is, Nicholas got the chance to live a life, had a chance to do things and now, in 25 or so years, he’ll still be able to have life when he gets out and that’s more than Gabriella ever had a chance at.

“He had the chance to make something of himself and be a father. He doesn’t deserve to call Gabriella his daughter. He may have ruined his own life, but he destroyed every opportunity she had at growing up and becoming something so special and important to so many more people.”

“He took away something that can never be replaced,” she added. “He took my daughter from me.”

Read more:

Mother beat and shook her infant daughter to death because she wouldn’t stop screaming, police say

‘You are a vicious monster’: Man sentenced for beating girlfriend’s 2-year-old to death

Men accused of killing toddlers say Shaken Baby Syndrome should be on trial, not them

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