A woman was sentenced to 18 years and four months in prison Thursday for causing her infant son’s death last year when she threw him twice because he would not stop crying.
Rachel Bryan, 21, pleaded guilty this month to second-degree murder as part of a plea deal.
During Thursday’s emotional court hearing, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Skinder gave a narrative of Bryan’s life in the months leading up to the assault on her 4-month-old son, Isaac. He said the child’s father physically and emotionally abused Bryan while she was living with him in California. He’s now in prison.
An evaluation at Western State Hospital found that Bryan suffers from mental health issues, Skinder said. However, she is legally competent to stand trial and knew right from wrong when she assaulted her son in a Grand Mound mobile home, Skinder said.
Investigators later learned Bryan also assaulted the infant in early September in California, Skinder added.
Bryan returned to the Grand Mound area from California in September 2011. Child Protective Services had begun investigating whether she was a fit mother just four days before the assault that led to Isaac’s death.
CPS began its investigation based on a nurse practitioner’s concerns about Bryan’s behavior toward her son during a visit to a Lewis County health care facility, as well as a lump on the child’s back.
“This child really didn’t stand a chance, and it’s horribly tragic,” Skinder said.
He talked Thursday about how “extremely traumatic and upsetting” it was to listen to Bryan’s 911 call, in which the “baby’s death rattle” is heard in the background.
Bryan shook and wept as Skinder recounted Isaac’s brief life. Skinder said he feels sympathy for Bryan and “can’t imagine the hell (she) is living in right now.”
Bryan’s attorney, Robert Jimerson, said his client is “haunted” by her son’s death.
“Her son is constantly on her mind,” he said.
Bryan was arrested Sept. 20, 2011, after an ambulance was sent to the mobile home where she was staying in the 20000 block of Grand Mound Way. Medical personnel found her son unresponsive.
Bryan admitted to assaulting her baby, court papers state.
“… I shouldn’t have done it, but it wasn’t me, “ Bryan reportedly told a detective. “When I get mad, my bipolar comes out.”
Bryan also told the detective, “I wasn’t nice to my son. I was very rough with him,” court papers state. She said she was frustrated because the baby would not stop crying.
The child was taken to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, where he was placed on life support. He was taken off life support several days later, according to a Thurston County Sheriff’s detective.
Bryan’s parents and sister were at Thursday’s court hearing. A court official read a statement by Bryan’s mother, Roberta, who said she hopes her daughter gets the help she needs in prison. Bryan’s father, Gary White, also spoke, weeping at the podium before Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy.
“I love my daughter Rachel; I love my grandson,” he said. “I miss them both.”
Before handing down the sentence, Murphy said, “I can’t imagine what the family has been through.” She added that the case is one “that leads all of us to think what can be done in the future to make sure that this does not happen again.”