A man who got a child pregnant then let their baby starve to death has apologised for not being “perfect.”
Darwin Red Cloud made the remarks as he was sentenced this week to four years in prison following the death of his two-month-old son, Dalton, in 2014.
He pleaded guilty to second degree murder at an earlier hearing where pictures of the baby boy with “every bone sticking out” were deemed too distressing to show a courtroom.
US attorney Sarah Collins said: “There are photos that haunt me and this is one of the cases.”
Red Cloud, 26, from Rapid City, South Dakota, was originally charged with sexual abuse of a minor, however the charge was dismissed in a plea agreement as well as first degree murder, felony child abuse and neglect charges, according to US media.
The age of the unnamed mother is not known.
It was argued in court he was unaware she was underage, but attorney Ms Collins said there was sufficient evidence he knew her age.
The court was also told how Red Cloud had “behaved terribly” in jail and that he had a record of four assaults there, spraying disinfectant on other inmates and threatening staff, reports News Center 1.
But Betsey Harris, representing Red Cloud, argued he had learning difficulties and endured a “traumatic childhood”, growing up without a father.
She added that he didn’t have the “insights to have a baby and to care for a child” and that the death was the result of a “confluence of circumstances,” News Center 1 added.
Red Cloud told the hearing: “I’m sorry. I’m not perfect. I’m a human being whose made mistakes.
“I may not be the smartest but I know I can do better. I should’ve paid attention more. I’m sorry.”
Chief Judge Jeffrey L Viken said this case was “highly unusual” and it was “hard to comprehend the signs were missed by so many”.
After the hearing, Red Cloud’s sister, Angie Red Cloud, said she didn’t think the baby showed any signs of emaciation.
She said the mother would “bring him down to the house every other day” and says there were a lot of small babies in their family.
Red Car’s cousin, Kaitlin Catches, also took to Facebook to defend him, reports the Metro.
According to the online publication, she wrote: “These reporters wanted to know the bad.
“But I’m so glad the judge seen the good in my cousin & decided to be lenient.
“No matter what the records or his dysfunctional baby momma said, HE IS NOT A MONSTER!
“I’m glad I took the stand to tell these ppl [sic] who HE IS! I don’t want my cousin to take the full responsibility but he is because he knows he was a parent.
“Although he isn’t the only parent, he chose to own up to it.
“The prosecutor was trying to make him sound like a monster & give him no less than 15years.
“I’m so thankful he will be home soon & able to get the help he needs. Our nightmare is over!!”