Man will spend at least two years behind bars for death of infant son
IDAHO FALLS — In 2016, a young boy died from severe head injuries. His father has now been sentenced for his role in the boy’s death.
This week, Robert Lawrence Saad, 31, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the death of his son, Robert Saad Jr. Two of those years are fixed with eight indeterminate. Saad was originally charged with first-degree murder but entered an Alford plea to the amended charge of involuntary manslaughter after questions about the victim’s injuries were raised by investigators.
An Alford plea is when an accused person acknowledges that a jury would likely find them guilty based on the evidence but still maintains that they are innocent.
Saad was given credit for two years he has spent in jail since he was arrested in November 2017. With the credit for time served, Saad is now eligible for a parole hearing from the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole.
“This is a very tragic time for me. I not only lost everything I could possibly have in this timeframe. I’ve lost my family, my son, my livelihood,” Saad said during the sentencing hearing on Wednesday.
On Sept. 15, 2016, Idaho Falls Police were called to the Saad home. It was reported the baby, Robert Saad Jr. was not breathing after falling backward and hitting his head.
He was taken to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center where doctors discovered a fracture at the back of his skull and bleeding on his brain, according to court documents. The baby was airlifted to Primary Children’s Hospital where he died Sept. 18, 2016.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Bonneville County Deputy Prosecutor Tanner Crowther said there was some dispute among medical professionals as to exactly when Robert Saad Jr. sustained the injuries to his head that resulted in his death.
Crowther said an X-ray showed the injury had been healing and that there was no bruising around the injury when Robert Saad Jr. was taken to the hospital. Crowther explained those facts call into question whether or not the child received the injuries while under Saad’s care.
“I highlight that because I want the court to know this was not a (charge) reduction as a matter of leniency,” Crowther said. “This is a case that is as serious as it gets. This was a reduction that was based upon the proof that we had and what would have been elicited at trial.”
He said the reduced charge came after carefully reviewing the facts and consulting experts.
“We’re very comfortable in this particular charge. And we’re very comfortable … that the sentence, in this case, ought to be a maximum sentence under an involuntary manslaughter theory,” Crowther said.
Crowther told district Judge Bruce Pickett that they have reached out to Robert Saad Jr.’s family to talk to them about the case. He said the family told him they did not want to be contacted or talk about the case.
Pickett said he has defended and prosecuted similar cases prior to becoming a judge. He said it is not uncommon for evidence to be interpreted differently as an investigation continues.
“But there are some things that are beyond doubt here. One, there was injuries to the child. (The presentencing investigation) talks about how there was an occipital skull fracture and the child had bleeding on the brain, a fracture of the arm,” Pickett said. “Ultimately, the investigators found early on that it was not an accidental injury.”
The plea agreement stipulated a sentence of 10 years, the maximum for involuntary manslaughter, with two years fixed and eight years indeterminate. The plea agreement was binding on the court which means if Pickett chose not to adhere to the agreements recommendation Saad would have been able to withdraw his guilty plea and the cause could have gone to trial.
Picket held to the plea agreement and sentenced Saad to 10 years with two years fixed and eight years indeterminate.