Shiloh man gets 8 years for beating infant son

BELLEVILLE — A southwestern Illinois man was sentenced to eight years in prison for severely beating his infant son after he pleaded with the judge for leniency, saying he was "truly remorseful" and intended to turn his life around.

Randall Penn, 21, could have received up to 30 years behind bars, which prosecutor Jennifer Coffin had requested. Penn, of Shiloh, had pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated battery of a child, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.

Shiloh police began investigating Penn last July after child welfare workers reported that his 4-month-old son had been hospitalized with what appeared to be abuse-related injuries, including brain damage and bite marks on his face.

Penn's attorney asked St. Clair County Associate Judge Zina Cruse to impose the minimum sentence of six years in prison, with Penn saying he hopes to become an ordained minister and that a long prison sentence would leave his son without a father.

Coffin pressed for the maximum possible term for Penn, saying that "instead of showing love to his child, he showed hatred and cruelty."

"He brutalized his own baby in a particularly heinous manner," Coffin told the court.

In sentencing Penn to eight years behind bars, Cruse said she couldn't reconcile the respectful young man described by family members with the defendant who admitted to severely harming his child.