25 to life for man who killed toddler son

Posted at: 12/12/2013 11:40 AM
Updated at: 12/12/2013 7:25 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

QUEENSBURY - Gary Waite didn't testify in his own defense during last month's murder trial, but he did speak briefly at his sentencing on Thursday as the judge told Waite he's going to prison for 25 years to life.

Waite was convicted of murder last month in the death of his son, 15-month-old Jesse James Smith.

A jury took just two hours to find that he acted with depraved indifference toward human life when he caused the head injuries that killed his child.

When Waite spoke, he didn't apologize for harming his own son, but he did say he wished things turned out differently.

"I wish that it turned out differently. I wish I was more stronger to call 911, but I am completely sorry. I wish I had more strength to call 911 instead of having my sister call because I couldn't talk," he said.

Jesse's aunt, Tricia Genier, read a statement in court that was written by Lisa Younes, the child's mother. Genier said after that she didn't expect an apology from Waite.

"It would've been nice to at least say something. You know, tell my sister that he was sorry for what happened," said Younes.

Waite's attorney, Marc Zuckerman, says his client has limited mental capacity and that Waite's words in court were his attempt to say he was sorry.

"He doesn't express himself well. That was his attempt to show some remorse and obviously, as you saw, he doesn't express himself well and it didn't come off clearly," said Zuckerman.

District Attorney Kate Hogan asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence, saying he sat and watched an innocent baby suffer an agonizing death.

Judge John Hall agreed, sentencing Gary Waite to 25 years to life in prison.

Before sentencing, Waite's attorney reminded the judge that Waite sought help for his injured child and therefore didn't act with depravity as the law defines it. It's that argument that will be the basis for the appeal.