In a bid to avoid a potential death sentence, a man accused of punching his own newborn son to death in 2017 has now pleaded guilty.
24-year-old Matthew Daniel Graves, hailing from Roy, Utah, pleaded guilty in January to one count of aggravated murder and in return got a pass on a misdemeanor drug charge and a felony charge of allowing a child to be exposed to a controlled substance, stated a Standard-Examiner report.
Prosecutors also agreed not to pursue the death penalty or a life sentence for Graves if he pleaded guilty, according to a plea agreement. While prosecutors are pushing for Graves to be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, the final decision will be made by the judge presiding over the killer's sentencing hearing.
Police arrested Graves shortly after reports came in that a one-month-old child was not breathing. Responding paramedics rushed little Brayden to Ogden Regional Medical Center before the baby was airlifted to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City for further help.
Upon examination, doctors found the one-month-old had sustained several non-accidental injuries and had "profound brain trauma" and hemorrhaging, police said.
Deputy Weber County Attorney Letitia Toombs told the court in a hearing on May 1, 2018, that Graves woke up to the sound of his alarm and the infant crying at around 6.30 am in the morning on Sept. 7, 2017. As he wanted to go back to sleep, the 24-year-old punched the baby and put a pacifier's in his mouth to silence the child.
Graves dropped off a five-year-old living in the house to daycare later that morning and took Brayden along. He soon noticed that the child wasn't breathing and immediately got his grandmother on the phone for advice. It was then that he summoned authorities, Toombs said.
According to charging documents, Graves told police during an interrogation that he punched his son repeatedly in the head as he was "blacked out from rage" because the baby was crying. "Matthew made comments that he is a monster, that he has lost all hope in life and is going to lose everything," the affidavit said.
While Graves is currently remanded in custody at the Weber County Jail without bail, his sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 5 at Ogden’s 2nd District Court.