MAYS LANDING — An Atlantic City man who investigators reported laughed when he re-enacted the events leading up to his infant daughter's death was sentenced to nine years in prison Friday.
Telly Burns, 31, pleaded guilty last month to reckless manslaughter, saying he dropped 4½-month-old Nyimah Janet Elain Burns on April 29, 2011, striking her head on a radiator, and then didn’t get her medical attention. He faced a maximum of 10 years in prison under the plea agreement.
“But for his inaction, we maybe would not be here today,” defense attorney Nellie Marquez told Superior Court Judge Kyran Connor.
The judge, however, indicated “inaction” was not Burns’ true crime.
“We know that Nyimah’s last beating was on April 29, 2011, but who knows when her first one was,” he said.
The medical examiner’s report showed the 19-week-old baby had multiple rib and skull fractures that were healing.
Burns told police he dropped Nyimah while he was cleaning his room, and she struck the radiator as she fell headfirst to the floor. He picked up the crying baby, fed her and then laid her down, when she started to gag. Burns tried shaking her, according to the report, then showed investigators using a doll.
“He held the doll by its rib area and shook it, the head of the doll going back and forth,” Connor said.
When Burns dropped the doll to show how Nyimah fell, “he smiled and chuckled, (saying) 'This ... is crazy,’“ the report said
The judge said he wondered “how could a man be so dismissive of the life of his baby daughter ... to dispatch her into the next world when her life had just begun.”
Burns showed no emotion during the sentencing, even appearing bored and rolling his eyes at certain points. When asked if he wanted to speak, he replied with a drawn out, “Nah.”
Nyimah was eventually brought to the hospital with several injuries, including four fractures to her skull, bleeding on her brain and a depressed skull. She was immediately put on life support, and Burns was arrested the next day. The charges were upgraded to aggravated manslaughter after the baby died May 2, 2011.
Burns must serve 85 percent of the nine-year term, or just more than 7½ years. He has credit for 693 days, meaning he could be free by the age of 37.
Burns previously served a 15-month prison term stemming from a drug conviction in 2007. In that case, he admitted to distribution of drugs within 500 feet of public housing.
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