Shelley man sentenced for burning child’s hand

Eric Monstwillo

Eric Monstwillo

By JOHNATHAN HOGAN, Post Register

A Shelley man was sentenced Wednesday, nearly a year after he was arrested for causing burns to a child’s hand.

Eric Monstwillo, 25, will spend four months in jail and eight years on probation, during which he will be forbidden from contacting the victim or the child’s family.

Monstwillo was babysitting the victim, who had to be taken to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center to have their burns treated. Monstwillo was arrested for injury to a child after investigators concluded the burns were not an accident and he gave changing explanations for how the child was injured. The victim did not suffer permanent damage.

“One of the things he took from us that day he burned our son’s hand is trust,” the victim’s father said in a victim-impact statement.

Both of the victim’s parents said they had been unwilling to allow their son to stay with strangers out of fear of what could happen. They had both stopped their education to be home with him more and his mother had reduced her work to part time.

They were also saddened that their son, now 2 years old, would have to explain to friends why his hand was so scarred.

“I hope he has to live with the sick story of abuse he put my baby through for the rest of his life,” the father said.

The victim’s mother was no more forgiving to Monstwillo than her husband.

“As the mother of the child who is a victim in this case, I want to start by saying we’re not OK, and we may never be OK,” she said.

The mother said she had guilt for dropping her son off to be cared for while she went to work the day he was injured. Monstwillo’s wife had offered to watch the child. The boy’s mother received a call later that day that her son was taken to the hospital.

“I walked into the (emergency room) and I heard a baby screaming, screams I had never heard before,” she said. “In my heart I knew it was my baby screaming.”

Defense attorney Jordan Crane said his client, who has a low IQ, was not properly interviewed by police. He said police fed Monstwillo their conclusions.

Crane also said his client had been remorseful, and that they had prepared for a jury trial, but Monstwillo wanted to be held accountable.

“Eric wanted to own up to his role in (the victim’s) injuries,” Crane said.

Bonneville County Deputy Prosecutor Tanner Crowther said the family had yet to receive a credible explanation for how the child was burned, and that they wanted Monstwillo to spend time in jail.

District Judge Bruce Pickett noted the defendant was pleading guilty to injury of a child through neglect, and if the court had concluded he intentionally harmed the victim, Monstwillo would be looking at prison.

Monstwillo will serve 45 days in jail before he will be eligible for work release. Pickett handed down an underlying sentence of two years fixed and six indeterminate, meaning if Monstwillo violates his parole, he will have to serve that prison time.