A 24-year-old man was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for fatally beating his Azusa girlfriend's infant son.
Stephen Douglas Hoffman was convicted in February of second-degree murder and assault on a child causing death after Los Angeles County coroner's officials determined the 16-month-old boy had been hit as many as 21 times in the head.
At the trial, which lasted about three weeks, witnesses testified that it was one of the worst injuries they had seen on a child.
The attack occurred while Hoffman was babysitting Malaikye, his girlfriend’s son, on Aug. 13, 2011, as she worked an overnight shift. At about 2:20 a.m., he texted her a picture of the toddler with a bruise on his face, telling her Malaikye fell off the bed and onto a toy.
Malaikye’s mother arrived at the Azusa home and went to bed at 6 a.m., prosecutors said. About three hours later, Hoffman told her Malaikye was having difficulty breathing and she called 911.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Taraneh Saba said Malaikye was brain-dead when he arrived at the hospital and was taken off a ventilator two days later.
Hoffman was arrested seven months later in connection with the death after changing his story and saying the toddler was jumping on the bed and fell to the floor.
At the sentencing hearing in Pomona, Judge Thomas C. Falls allowed Hoffman's mother the chance to give a statement.
Hoffman's mother, Gennifer, described her son as a kind and loving person and said that he had a bond with the child even though he was not his biological father.
"Stephen was a wonderful father to Kye," she said.
Various family members, including the child's biological father, the child's grandparents and his mother also spoke.
Kimberly Payne, the child's maternal grandmother, held up a photo of the smiling child, whom she referred to as her "little peanut."
"This was Kye on his first birthday and this is unfortunately what we will never see again," she said through tears.
Jazmin Payne, the child's mother, said she recently celebrated what would have been the toddler's fourth birthday with her younger daughter at Disneyland. She paused.
"He should be here," she said.
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