Child abuse sentence for Smithfield man 'will never be enough'
A crying mother and a shouting father said on Monday that no prison sentence could be long enough for the cowardly “monster” who beat their toddler, leaving their “amazing boy” severely disabled.
Chase Hay, who is now 28 months old, can no longer walk, talk or crawl as a result of his life-altering encounter with Raymond Allen Matteson of Smithfield on Oct. 4.
Chase suffered permanent brain damage, lost sight in his right eye and may be totally blind, his mother, Lori Brundege, told a judge Monday.
“Chase will always be my hero,” said his father, James Hay. “He will make it, regardless of what that monster did to him. I hope he (Matteson) suffers in prison.”
Senior Judge Gerald Solomon sentenced Matteson, 35, to an 11- to 22-year prison sentence for assaulting and recklessly endangering Chase on the day he baby-sat while Brundege, who was his girlfriend, went to work.
“He deserves more than that,” Brundege said,
“It will never be enough,” said Hay, of Connellsville.
Hay had to be restrained as he shouted at Matteson as he was led from the courtroom, in handcuffs and leg shackles, to the Fayette County Prison.
A jury last week convicted Matteson of aggravated assault, simple assault, child endangerment and reckless endangerment for assaulting the boy at the apartment.
In a victim-impact statement, a tearful Brundege said doctors at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh told her Chase had just three days to live.
“I read to Chase and watched the monitor, waiting to see his beautiful eyes open or for him to say Ma Ma,” Brundege testified before sentencing. “Then the day I remember the most is when the doctor said he had three days to live. I was angry, upset, and why, Ray? ... Why did his dad, my family, my friends and I have to say goodbye to a once amazing, funny little boy?”
She told Matteson, “You are a coward, heartless, and you are not a man.”
Before he was sentenced, Matteson denied that he harmed Chase. He blamed his brother, who was in the apartment when Chase was injured, although police did not charge the brother.
“I maintain my innocence,” Matteson said, as he stood and turned to face Brundege and her family in the courtroom gallery. “I did everything I could to revive Chase.”
At trial, Matteson testified he left Chase in the living room for 10 to 15 minutes, returning to find him unresponsive. He testified he splashed water on the boy's face and put him in a cold shower to try to revive him.
His brother, John Riggle Jr., 27, of Washington, testified he went into the kitchen to find Matteson shaking Chase.
The incident marked the second time Chase was hurt in Matteson's care. Matteson was the only adult in the apartment on Sept. 12, when the toddler's right femur was broken. Matteson testified Chase broke the leg in a fall, but a doctor testified that was unlikely because the break came from significant force.
Solomon said neither he nor the jury believed Matteson's story.
Solomon could have imposed as little as five years in prison, but prosecutor Mark Mehalov requested the maximum of 20 years on the assault charge.
“You showed no mercy to Chase, a child of 20 months,” Solomon told Matteson. “This court will show no mercy to you.”
Solomon compared the convicted man to a cancer that must be excised from society.
“My heart, my soul, my very being are each filled with compassion. Not even one iota of that is for you. Every single bit of it is for Chase, this child you battered and abused,” Solomon said.
Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or email@example.com.