Witkowski sentenced for child abuse

Convicted child abuser Joshua Witkowski was sentenced to serve 71 months to 10 years in prison on Monday in Manistee County's 19th Circuit Court. (file photo)

Convicted child abuser Joshua Witkowski was sentenced to serve 71 months to 10 years in prison on Monday in Manistee County’s 19th Circuit Court. (file photo)

MANISTEE — A convicted child abuser was sentenced to prison time on Monday in Manistee County’s 19th Circuit Court despite maintaining his innocence through 20 months of investigation and court proceedings.

Joshua Witkowski, 27, of Manistee, was sentenced to serve 71 months to 10 years in prison for his jury conviction in July of second degree child abuse against a 2-year-old Manistee girl on Dec. 17, 2012. He was living with the child’s mother at the time, and the crime is believed to have been committed sometime that morning while Witkowski had the child alone in a vehicle while running errands.

Judge James Batzer said on Monday that he believed the jury reached a proper verdict in the case.

“(Witkowski) has utterly robbed this child, who was entrusted to his care, of any semblance of an opportunity to lead a normal life,” Batzer said. “In the opinion of the court, he did it in a rage.”

Defense attorney Mark Otto said the defendant maintains that he didn’t injure the victim and provided other possible explanations, such as siblings or the victim’s mother.

“He believes that this was a tragedy, but not at his hands,” Otto said.

The victim, now 4, has taken a turn for the worse in her recovery, her father Steve Carey reported at a previous sentencing hearing. The injuries she sustained such as massive brain swelling and a subdural hematoma were life threatening if she didn’t receive the proper treatment, doctors testified at Witkowski’s trial.

“Her seizures have progressed,” Carey explained. “She’s anywhere from six to eight a day. She’s degressing in physical therapy, she’s losing vocabulary, she has no motivation to walk. I am watching my daughter fall apart in front of my own eyes.

“(Her) future does not look very bright at all,” Carey continued. “She will, more than likely, live with us for the rest of her life, however long that may be. To see a 4-year-old, who is the size of a 7-year-old, still have to use diapers and use specialty equipment (is terrible).”

Carey told the court that his daughter was given a life sentence due to the injuries she sustained, and that the situation has taken a great toll on several of his family members.

“I just want to extend my condolences to the defendant’s family, my family, (the victim)’s mother’s family, and all of the families who have had anything to do with this,” Carey said. “It’s heartbreaking watching their child, my child, any kind of child regardless of who they may be, go through these hardships.

“That’s one thing I have learned over this time: what a hardship is.”

Witkowski was credited with 357 days served.

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Posted by Eric Sagonowsky

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