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Saturday, September 28, 2019 1:00 am

16-year term given in girl's death

Father pleaded guilty to neglecting 2-year-old

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

Shane Patton asked to leave the courtroom Friday after he was sentenced for neglecting his former girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter who died last year.

Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull handed Patton a 16-year sentence, with two years suspended and 14 years behind bars.

The judge ordered bailiffs to remove a woman from the courtroom when she began to voice her displeasure with the sentence.

Patton then shook his head and asked to leave. He was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

Patton, 32, had pleaded guilty to two counts of neglect of a dependent in the death of Jocelyn “JoJo” Belcher. She was found dead Jan. 27, 2018, inside the family's East Butler Street home. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss a third felony neglect charge against Patton.

In August, Crystal Belcher, the girl's mother, was sentenced to 12 years, with nine years suspended and three years behind bars in her daughter's death. 

Belcher pleaded guilty in March to two counts of felony neglect of a dependent. The most serious neglect charge, which carries a penalty of up to 40 years in prison, was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

She was also required to testify against Patton, her former boyfriend.

“If there was anything I could have done to prevent this, I would have done that,” Patton told the judge when she asked if he had anything to say.

Gull told Patton his expression of remorse wasn't sincere. “All you're doing is placing blame on everybody else,” she said.

Before he was charged in JoJo's death, Patton had two misdemeanor convictions and a felony drunken driving conviction.

JoJo was wrapped tight in a blanket and had been dead for at least two hours when she was found. An autopsy revealed a hemorrhage in the girl's neck, and the Allen County coroner ruled neck compression as the cause of death. The toddler had injuries including healed forearm fractures that were consistent with abuse, doctors told investigators.

Court documents describe the home as filthy, with animal feces on the floor where JoJo and other children slept. Animal Care & Control reportedly removed two dogs, two cats and a raccoon from the house.

jchapman@jg.net