DECATUR — Christopher M. Pulliam, who admitted repeatedly punching an 8-month-old baby in the head, fracturing its skull and causing permanent disabling injuries, was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in prison.
Pulliam, 35, pleaded guilty to the aggravated battery of a child, a Class X felony. In a plea deal negotiated by defense attorney Caleb Brown, Pulliam admitted an additional charge of aggravated battery and was sentenced to an additional two years in prison.
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But under the plea deal terms, Macon County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Geisler ordered the two-year term to run concurrent with the 12-year sentence, which must be served at 85%. Two additional aggravated battery charges were then dismissed by the judge.
Giving evidence at Tuesday’s sentencing, Macon County State’s Attorney Scott Rueter said Decatur police launched an investigation in December after the baby had been taken to Decatur Memorial Hospital with terrible injuries. The baby at one stage had stopped breathing and doctors diagnosed a “left parietal skull fracture,” according to additional information from a police sworn affidavit.
Rueter described how the baby was being babysat by Pulliam’s fiancée and a surveillance camera system in her home captured Pulliam frequently hitting the child.
Frustrated about the baby’s crying, the affidavit described how Pulliam would watch carefully to see if his fiancée was paying attention before striking the baby in the head. The baby, sitting in a swing at the time, was hit so hard the affidavit described the swing as moving from side to side with the force of the blow.
The affidavit said the baby continued to cry, prompting more surreptitious attacks from Pulliam: “Christopher steps over into the middle of the living room and grabs a blanket and holds it up between (the baby) and where (his fiancée) is at and is seen striking (the baby) three more times,” according to the affidavit, signed by Detective James Knierim.
The detective said the surveillance video shows the fiancée rushing into the room to comfort the screaming baby, prompting Pulliam to make a sound of disgust. He then says to the baby: “How about you stop being an (expletive), screaming, crying baby?”
Other incidents of abuse are also caught on the tape, which show Pulliam hitting the baby with “glow sticks” and throwing and hitting the baby with an unknown object.
Rueter told the judge there was surveillance evidence that Pulliam had also struck a 14-month-old child of his fiancée, although this victim had been luckier, and escaped lasting injury.