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Utah man sentenced to prison in 2017 infant death case

By Jacob Klopfenstein, | Posted - Jul. 22, 2019 at 4:07 p.m.

WEST JORDAN — A man who was convicted earlier this year of child abuse — but acquitted of murder — in the 2017 death of a 2-week-old child has been sentenced to prison.

Dylan James Kitzmiller, 23, will spend between two and 30 years in prison, according to a sentencing order filed Thursday in 3rd District Court in West Jordan.

Kitzmiller was found guilty March 21 of two counts of child abuse with serious physical injury, both second-degree felonies, following a four-day jury trial. The jury acquitted him of one count of murder, as well as another count of child abuse.

3rd District Court Judge William K. Kendall ordered Kitzmiller to serve his sentence of one to 15 years on each child abuse count consecutively, or one after the other, according to the sentencing order. The court recommended that he receive credit for 636 days already spent in jail.

Kitzmiller was also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine in the case.

Kitzmiller’s attorney Rudy Bautista did not immediately respond to an email Monday requesting a comment on the sentencing.

The infant’s mother, 28-year-old Maria Elena Sullivan, was referred to a treatment center in April in the case.

The infant, 13-day-old Archer Sullivan, was found with a severe brain injury, as well as a fractured arm, broken rib, and injured spinal cord when authorities found him in full arrest on Sept. 17, 2017, charges state.

First responders also saw bruising around the infant’s eyes, shoulder and arm, as well as an injury to his ear, according to charges.

Archer was pronounced dead at the scene at Kitzmiller’s mother’s home, where he and Sullivan were living, charges state. An autopsy later revealed the child died of a brain injury. He was born Sept. 4, 2017 without any known medical problems, court documents state.

Sullivan struck a plea bargain in March 2018 in which she admitted to leaving the boy in Kitzmiller’s care and allowing him to injure the child. She pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse. Prosecutors dropped a third child abuse count, as well as a murder charge, as part of the plea deal.

Sullivan testified in the case that she left the house for about 30 minutes and returned to find Kitzmiller moving Archer’s legs in a “weird bicycle motion.” She then tried to calm the baby down, but he made a gagging sound and then stopped breathing, she testified.

During Kitzmiller’s trial, prosecutors argued that he had tossed Archer in the air, treated him roughly and kicked him the night before he died.

Bautista has argued that Sullivan is actually to blame for her son’s death. During the trial, he alleged that Sullivan inflicted the injuries and may have been upset with Kitzmiller because he bonded with the boy.

He said that Kitzmiller was playful and possibly rough with the child, but that nothing Kitzmiller did would have led to the injuries Archer sustained.

Kitzmiller told police that he and Sullivan had both used heroin on the day the boy died, according to the charges.

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