A Minnesota man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for murdering his 18-month-old black foster daughter. According to SWNewsMedia, Jason Robert Betlach, 32, pleaded guilty to the August 2018 murder in February.
Delivering the judgment at the Scott County District Court on April 7, Judge Rex Stacey said he would have sentenced Betlach to life imprisonment had he withdrawn his guilty plea. Betlach received the maximum sentence for a second-degree murder charge.
“You’re barely human, sir,” Stacey told Betlach.
The victim, who was of black and native American heritage, was allegedly physically assaulted by Betlach, resulting in her sustaining a “blunt force head and neck injury” which led to severe brain damage.
An autopsy report from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office also confirmed the deceased succumbed to blows to her head and neck.
Appearing before the court after his arrest, Betlach admitted he was in a position of authority while the minor was vulnerable. He also confessed to shaking the victim while she was crying until she became unresponsive, SWNewsMedia reports. Those submissions were held as aggravating factors.
Besides the physical assault, the victim was also subjected to racist abuse on a number of occasions. In one instance, Betlach used a marker to write “loser” on the victim, while in another, he was seen in a video screaming “white power” at her.
His attorney, however, told the court during the sentencing that his client is “a good person who did a very bad act.”
“This wasn’t a mistake, Mr. Betlach,” Stacey responded. “This was murder of a baby.”
Betlach and some members of the victim’s emotionally distraught family addressed the court through a phone call during the sentencing, SWNewsMedia further reports. Betlach has already spent 519 days behind bars and it will be counted to his sentence.