Harrington man gets 15 years in prison for baby’s death by abuse

DOVER — A Harrington man was sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday for the murder by abuse of a 7-month-old girl staying at his home three years ago.

James E. Hammond’s term will be reviewed after 10 years, a Superior Court judge ordered. He will serve six months Level IV work release and two years Level III probation following his release.

The defendant was 48 years old when convicted on Nov. 14, 2017.

James. E. Hammond

Aubri N. Thompson, of Dover, was pronounced dead at Milford Memorial Hospital after arriving in an unresponsive state on Feb. 28, 2014. Prosecutors alleged she suffered multiple blunt force trauma wounds while under Hammond’s care.

Before issuing the sentence, Resident Judge William L. Witham Jr. found fault with the defendant’s apparent slow reaction after the child suffered physical injuries at his residence in the 200 block of Commerce Street in Harrington.

“Your serious mistake was made when you didn’t take immediate action,” to Aubri’s severe physical condition, the judge explained.

Also, Judge Witham concluded while acknowledging the young victim’s age-related vulnerability, “This type of offense in many people’s (opinion) can be viewed as an accident …. the (victim’s) family would view it differently.

“It’s still a crime, a serious crime.”

Prior to arriving at a sentencing decision, Judge Witham noted that “a good number of people” wrote on Hammond’s behalf and others communicated the profound sense of loss suffered by Aubri’s family due to his actions.

In a letter read to the court, Aubri’s maternal grandmother lamented the “horrendous length” the case took toward a trial, with changes and delays throughout. Family members opted not to speak in open court before the sentence was announced.

Hammond declined to address the court Wednesday, but his defense attorney P. Scott Wilson opined to the judge that “I believe he is remorseful for what has happened.”

Deputy Attorney General Stephen R. Welch, who prosecuted the case along with DAG Stephen E. Smith, declined comment afterward.

The defendant was on probation for a third-offense DUI conviction when the incident occurred, and Judge Witham described a “fairly minimal past criminal history” while evaluating his background that included raising two families and operating a business. The completion of anger management and parenting classes were ordered, among other stipulations.

Hammond must pay $5,000 to the Victim’s Compensation Assistance Program along with costs of prosecuting the case.

The maximum sentencing guideline could have brought 25 years incarceration. The state requested a term above the mandatory minimum 10 years.

Hammond was credited with prison time served since his conviction last year, along with eight days prior to that during an ongoing investigation.

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