Jeff Smith 2:30 p.m., June 26
Former Marine Admits Manslaughter
Former Marine Gabriel Gaitan admitted to manslaughter and felony child abuse in the death of his 2-month-old daughter Elisabeth. The baby was born in December of 2005 and crushed to death in March 2006.
Gabriel Gaitan met his future wife Danyell on base when they were both Marines. After Danyell became pregnant he begged her to get an abortion, the prosecutor said. After the birth, Gabriel wanted to put the baby up for adoption but she refused, the mother told investigators.
The night the baby died, Danyell said she witnessed her husband fall forward onto the baby. Gabriel was hugging the baby to his chest when he fell forward into a one-armed pushup, in the way that Marines are trained to do. His public defender protested that the fatal injury to the baby was “an accident.”
Prosecutor Marnie McGee said the baby’s short life of 77 days was filled with pain, and that an autopsy showed Elizabeth had fourteen rib fractures with signs they had been healing for weeks.
The couple had bought Gerber Life Insurance on the baby in the amount of $10,000, according to Sheriff’s Detective Brian Jenkins.
Judge K. Michael Kirkman expressed regret at falling short of “perfect justice” when he sentenced Gabriel Gaitan to 19 years in prison this afternoon. The sentence was part of a plea deal in which murder and assault charges were dropped against 27-year-old Gaitan.
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