Rigor mortis had set in by the time anyone tried to help 15-month-old Sayvon Jordan Jr. after his mother’s then-boyfriend beat him to death.
That “callous neglect after the fact” and the brutality of the death were things Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stanley Rumbaugh considered Thursday as he weighed a sentence for the toddler’s killer.
He settled on 21 years, two months in prison for 31-year-old Dedric Greer. That was the high end of Greer’s sentencing range for second-degree murder, to which he pleaded guilty earlier this year.
People who loved Sayvon wrote the court that his death had been devastating to the family, especially to his young sisters, ages 3 and 5.
“Hearing a 5-year-old explain to her sister, through vivid imagination, that Sayvon jumped real high on the trampoline and God caught him — all I could do was go in the bathroom and cry, because I knew the truth,” Sayvon’s grandmother, Linda Gatewood wrote.
Loved ones wrote that the toddler smiled a lot and liked to cuddle. They can’t understand, they said, why someone would hurt him.
Sayvon’s father, who at one point shared a prison cell with Greer, suggested one answer. Sayvon Jordan Sr. wrote that the toddler “couldn’t protect himself from a 31-year-old man who didn’t like his father.”
Greer and Sayvon’s mother, who was pregnant with Greer’s child, took Sayvon to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in July, at which point doctors said the 15-month-old had been dead for some time.
Initially Greer said he’d given the child the Heimlich maneuver after he swallowed a rock, but investigators found other injuries that indicated long-term abuse.
The baby, his mother and Greer had just moved to Tacoma from Arkansas, and were staying with a friend who also had children.
The other children in the home told detectives Greer had held the toddler by the neck, tossed him onto a bed and pushed his fists into the boy’s stomach, calling him, “stupid baby.”
In an attempt to withdraw his guilty plea before sentencing, Greer told Rumbaugh, “It didn’t go down like that. … I just can’t get up there and agree to it, man.”
Rumbaugh said no, and Greer’s attorney, Edward DeCosta, told the court later that Greer had thought better of trying to back out of the plea.
“He never intended for this child to die,” DeCosta said. “He used incredibly poor judgment, and he recognizes that.”
Greer briefly addressed the court, to say: “I’m sorry. I never meant for this to happen.”
DeCosta asked the judge to show the same mercy in sentencing that the attorney said Greer should have shown Sayvon, but Rumbaugh didn’t.
“I just in good conscience cannot,” he told Greer. “... What a waste. Not just of your life, but of the child’s life as well. It’s inexplicable.”