An Oakland man was sentenced at an emotional hearing today to two years in state prison for the death of his 3-month-old son four years ago. Fernando Loughlin, 36, was charged with murder for the death of his son, Julian Loughlin, who was hospitalized with traumatic injuries on March 3, 2007, and died five days later.
But on Feb. 2, the second day of his trial, Loughlin, who was an advertising manager for the East Bay Express, pleaded no contest to the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutor Tim Wellman said he entered into a plea bargain with Loughlin because there was conflicting medical evidence about what happened to Julian, there was a lack of corroborating evidence to prove that Loughlin deliberately killed his son, and Loughlin had no previous criminal history and no history of child abuse. In addition, Loughlin had strong support from his family, including his wife, Wellman said.
Loughlin’s attorney, William Locke, said today that Julian’s death was simply an accident in which the baby fell from his hands into a bathtub because he was distracted by tending to his other son, who was 20 months old at the time, at his family’s Kempton Avenue apartment in Oakland. Locke said Loughlin’s only mistake was initially telling a 911 operator and police that he had no idea how his son was injured, as he was afraid that authorities might not believe his account of what happened and might take his children away from him. Locke said, “He was human but he was deeply wrong” and that Loughlin’s actions are “something he will regret as long as he lives.” But Wellman said Loughlin “put his own selfish interests in front of his child’s interests” by lying about what happened.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Gloria Rhynes said she agreed, saying that Loughlin “put in place the chain of events that led to Julian’s death, including making a number of lies.” Rhynes said she was disturbed about a 911 operator’s testimony that he had “never heard a father so dispassionate” about a child’s injuries. Rhynes said Loughlin “was indifferent to the consequences of his actions” and “what occurred was what a conscientious parent, a devoted parent or a careful parent would have done under the circumstances.” The judge said Loughlin “was more concerned about himself” than getting immediate treatment for his son and his behavior “was not the way parents conduct themselves in emergency situations.”
About 20 of Loughlin’s family members attended his sentencing today in a show of support. However, his wife, who was Julian’s mother did not attend. Locke said Loughlin’s wife was busy attending to the couple’s other son, who has cancer and has undergone chemotherapy. Rhynes lectured Loughlin’s sister on her behavior in court, as the sister reacted loudly to comments that she disagreed with. Rhynes told the sister, “If you disagree with something, take it outside. You need to have a poker face and listen.” Loughlin’s sister also told two reporters who were at the hearing that they should not attend it because it was “a private family matter.”
Loughlin, who had been free on bail, was taken into custody at the end of the hearing and will now be transported to state prison. Locke said Loughlin will serve about 10 months, as he will get credit for time he spent in custody when he was arrested in 2007.
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