Ivryee Flowers shook his baby daughter so hard on Dec. 7, 2011, she suffered a fatal skull fracture.
Still, in Pierce County Superior Court on Wednesday, he said he never meant to kill her.
This was an accident, the 21-year-old man told Judge James Orlando. I truly loved and still love my daughter.
Orlando wasnt buying.
The judge ignored a recommendation worked out between deputy prosecutor Lori Kooiman and defense attorney Mark Quigley for a 15-year sentence and instead ordered Flowers imprisoned for 18 years.
Theres no degree of remorse that Ive sensed from you that convinces me that you realize the enormity of what youve done, Orlando told Flowers. I think this child needs something more than 15 years in prison.
Minutes before, Flowers pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Leileah Flowers death.
Tacoma police detectives said he was upset because the 8-month-old girl was fussy and interrupting his video-game playing. According to court records, he shook her violently after his attempts to calm her were unsuccessful.
Realizing hed hurt the girl, he called 911, records show, but Leileah later died at a hospital.
Wednesdays proceedings were tense, with supporters of both Flowers and Leileah filing into court.
At one point, Flowers mother was forcibly removed from the courtroom after she got upset when a sheriffs deputy told her to sit down.
Clearly agitated, shed gotten out of her seat and moved to another location while Leileahs maternal grandmother, Jeannie Williamson, was making a victim statement to the court.
I want to be able to see my son, she told the deputy.
She sat down when commanded to do so but cursed at the deputy, who then demanded she leave. The woman pulled out of the deputys grasp when he grabbed her arm to escort her from the room, and several of her friends and relatives also got upset and left their seats.
Court was interrupted for about 10 minutes as deputies restored order. Flowers mother later was booked into jail for investigation of obstructing a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct.
Steve Harrington, Leileahs great uncle, addressed the court once things settled down. Harrington said relatives on Leileahs mothers side of the family had only one question.
Why? Harrington asked Flowers. You had all the support in the world to help you. The memories of this tragedy will last a lifetime.
Flowers then got his chance to address the court.
He apologized to his own family and that of his daughters mother.
I am very sorry for the loss, Flowers said.
Still, he said, he would leave court with my head held high because he did not intend to kill Leileah.
When I come home, Ill do everything I can to make her proud of me, Flowers said.
Orlando appeared flabbergasted at Flowers comments.
Fathers are supposed to protect their children, not hurt them, the judge said.
I dont understand, Mr. Flowers, Orlando said before imposing the 18-year sentence.
Outside court, Williamson said the loss of her granddaughter still hurts.
I talk to her like shes still in the house today, she said. This didnt have to happen. I was only a phone call away.
Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644