man who was previously imprisoned for injuring his infant son was sentenced today to 32 years in prison for severely beating his girlfriend’s 4-year-old child with a metal-studded belt.
“I did not know it was against the law to hit someone with a belt,” Frank Westmoreland Jr. said in a lengthy statement before his sentencing.
Westmoreland, 31, was found guilty of aggravated battery and armed violence this summer for punishing the boy, who had incurred Westmoreland’s anger on Jan. 31 after the child yanked on the ears of the family dog, DuPage County prosecutors said.
The child suffered severe bruising and lacerations on his chest and body. Someone in a neighboring apartment heard the sounds of the beating and the child’s frightened calls and contacted police.
Hospital doctors said the child showed evidence of older beatings, according to prosecutors.
Judge Blanche Hill Fawell said the injuries went far beyond what a reasonable person could consider as discipline. She held up large photos showing the boy’s injuries.
“These pictures are sickening,” she said. “I don’t know any other word to use for them.”
In his statement, Westmoreland said that as a child “getting whipped was regular, like the sun rising every day.”
Westmoreland had twice served prison sentences. One was for the 1999 arrest for shaking his 8-month-old son so hard that it caused eye damage to the infant. But, Westmoreland contended, he was not a criminal.
When the judge challenged him on that point, Westmoreland contrasted himself with a bank robber, as someone who choses to break the law.
“I wasn’t trying to commit a crime,” he said.
Fawell chided Westmoreland for not accepting responsibility.
“All I’m doing is hearing a lot of excuses that you weren’t at fault,” she said.
The child and his sister are now in foster care.
Their foster mother testified that on their first night together, the child knocked a glass of water off his nightstand and became panicked that he would be beaten for it.
“He sobbed, ‘Please don’t kill me,’’’ the foster mother said.
Westmoreland, she said, “has brutalized him in a way that will affect him for the rest of his life.”