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Airman found guilty for death of infant son

Mar. 25, 2013 - 01:05PM   |  
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A military panel on Saturday sentenced a former Fort Meade, Md., technical sergeant to five years in prison and a bad conduct discharge for the 2011 death of his infant son, Adam.

The jury of three officers and five non-commissioned officers found James Sauk guilty of involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide and two counts of assault against the 7-week-old baby late Friday following a five-day court-martial at Joint Base Andrews, Md. They found him not guilty of murdering Adam and assaulting his infant daughter, Lydia, who suffered more than a dozen fractures a year and a half after his son’s death.

Jurors also sentenced Sauk, 31, to a reduction to E-1. He was taken into custody to serve out his prison time following sentencing Saturday, said Capt. Malinda Singleton, 11th Wing Public Affairs chief.

Sauk, who did not take the stand during the trial, made an unsworn statement during sentencing proceedings, Singleton said. He held a photograph of himself with his children and described a positive relationship with his two surviving children, neither of whom he has seen since October. The oldest child, now 4, was not listed as a victim. Sauk said he thinks about Adam every day.

The prosecution team, Capts. Adam Benz and Gabriel Podesta, described how Adam went into cardiac arrest while in the care of his father the night of Jan. 9, 2011. Adam died in the hospital a day later from what doctors described as non-accidental trauma.

“Adam’s head was struck or something struck Adam,” Podesta said during opening statements.

An autopsy later revealed injuries to the 7-week-old’s face, head, chest and thighs, including a healing fracture in his rib and a healing cut inside his mouth.

“Every time that boy suffered some mishap, he was in the sole care of the accused,” Podesta argued.

Sauk and his wife, Kelly, who lived off base in Pasadena, Md., had another child, Lydia, in April 2012. At the time, the couple was under investigation by local authorities in connection with Adam’s death, according to trial testimony. The state’s Child Protective Services had a “safety plan” in place that restricted Sauk’s access to the new infant.

Sauk still lived in the home, however, and prosecutors contended he was alone with Lydia on multiple occasions, including six nights a week when Kelly Sauk would work out in the basement of the home.

Kelly Sauk testified she noticed in September one of Lydia’s arms was limp and had begun to swell.

“Doctors discovered 14 fractures in her body in various stages of healing,” Podesta said.

The defense denied James Sauk injured either of the children, arguing his wife had “equal or greater” access to the infants, especially after Adam’s death, and that Sauk had no reason to suspect they were being abused.

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