MASON CITY | Family members from both sides filled the small Cerro Gordo County courtroom Monday, as a Mason City man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for seriously injuring his then 5-month-old daughter last year.
A jury in April convicted Jeremy Rose, 28, of felony child endangerment resulting in serious injury. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison by Judge Rustin T. Davenport. A $1,000 fine was suspended.
Child endangerment resulting in serious injury is a forcible felony with a mandatory maximum 10-year sentence.
Rose spoke briefly just before he was sentenced.
“I want the court to know how sorry I am that this incident occurred,” Rose said.
Rose’s defense attorneys filed a motion requesting a new trial and an arrest of judgement, a postponement or stay of a court decision. Both were denied.
Public defender Parker Thirnbeck said his client understands a tragedy has occurred but denies he caused it.
“I don’t think there is a day he doesn’t think about his daughters,” Thirnbeck said.
Thirnbeck asked for the maximum $50,000 fine for the child endangerment charge to be reduced and suspended, saying they would rather any money go to the victim rather than the state. The maximum fine was not enacted in the case.
“This is a tragic event,” Assistant Cerro Gordo County Attorney Andrew Olson said. “This is an incident that never should have happened.”
Olson said Rose should have been “watching out” for his daughter.
“He was her father,” Olson said.
“He still is,” one of Rose’s family members whispered as Olson argued for the maximum sentences for the child endangerment charge and an additional methamphetamine charge.
Rose looked at his family to his right throughout proceedings and kept his head down during sentencing.
Alyss Michel, the baby's 26-year-old mother and Jeremy's girlfriend at the time of the incident, gave a victim impact statement.
“My daughter is going to be affected by his behavior for the rest of her life,” Michel said. “June 22, 2017 is the night I will never forget no matter how hard I try.
"My daughter was left with someone who I thought would protect and defend her, yet he did the complete opposite and turned her life upside down.
"When I left for work that night, I never thought that the next time I was gonna see (daughter’s name) she was going to be struggling to breathe in an emergency department fighting for her life,” she said.
Michel said DHS placed her other daughter with her parents temporarily that night while she was going to Rochester for her 5-month-old’s treatment.
Michel said her then 2-year-old suffers from nightmares and tantrums as a result of Rose’s actions and her mother’s absence.
“There were many times when she would just come out and say ‘Jeremy’ - as she does not call him Dad - ‘hurt my sissy,’ or ‘Jeremy’s naughty,’” Michel said. “All of that was coming from a 2-year-old.”
Since the incident, the baby has had "countless" surgeries and has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, according to Michel. She also had a stroke and seizures.
“She cannot walk, she cannot crawl. She is just beginning to sit up, and she’s just starting to talk,” Michel said. “At 17 months, she should be doing everything that I just stated but she is delayed.”
Rose showed no reaction and never made eye contact with Michel though her statement.
“Going back to work has been difficult because it's hard to trust anyone with my children,” she said.
Michel detailed all the therapy, hospital and doctor visits that interrupt her work and make it hard to provide for her family as a result of Rose’s actions. She also talked about her fears since the incident.
“From the moment I was able to bring (daughter’s name) home in July 2017, I was too scared to go out in public due to the chances of seeing the defendant or his family,” Michel said. “December 2017, I did in fact run into his family, which resulted in scaring my children because one of his family members whipped a cart around with my kids in it.”
Michel said that now, a year later, the family is just starting to put their lives back together and are finding some normalcy.
“How can someone be so heartless and harm an innocent baby?” Michel said with emphasis. “If they can harm an innocent baby, they can do much, much more or even worse.”
Michel then read a poem about her daughter’s trauma, written from the baby’s perspective.
“You took away my innocence, my hopes, my dreams, my youth,” she read. “You took from me, my very soul.”
Michel looked directly at Rose saying, “You will never again have control.”
Rose pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance – second offense, a charge stemming from an incident on June 29, 2017.
Just one week after his daughter was taken to the hospital, Rose was arrested with meth.
“While (the child’s name) was struggling,” Olson said. “This shows a disregard for what his daughter is going through.”
Thirnbeck said the drug charge came from meth residue found in a glass pipe.
“There was no baggie,” Thirnbeck said. “My client, who was clean, relapsed because of the incident.”
Olson argued for the maximum two years for the drug charge and that the time be served consecutively with the 10 year child endangerment sentence, so Rose would serve 12 years in prison. Olson noted that there was no plea deal with the drug charge. Thirnbeck asked for seven days in jail.
“It’s hard to measure up what is a just punishment,” Olson said.
Davenport sentenced Rose to two years in prison for the drug charge. That sentence will be served concurrently, or at the same time, with the 10-year prison term for child endangerment resulting in serious injury. A fine of $625 was suspended.
“The time served would be sufficient,” Davenport said of running the sentences concurrently.
A no-contact order that bars Rose from seeing or speaking to his daughter remains in effect.
Prosecutors requested $1,957 in victim restitution, with the possibility to apply for more within the next 30 day. A ruling on restitution will be made at a later date.