QUEENSBURY -- After a blistering statement from the grandmother of Gary Carpenter III and a tearful apology from his mother, Jennie Mattison, Warren County Court Judge John Hall sentenced Mattison to 1 to 3 years in prison Tuesday morning.
Hall, who carefully explained the reason behind his sentencing, strongly recommended the 24-year-old Mattison take part in the state’s shock incarceration program.
“She chose to let her child be beaten to death by the man she loved,” grandmother Jessie Carpenter said in her victim’s statement, referring to Brandon Warrington, who was convicted and is serving the maximum of 25 years to life for killing the 5-year-old in November.
“She didn’t protect her first child. She helped Brandon torture him. She is to blame as much as anyone,” Carpenter said. “She could have gotten him out of there. She will never be forgiven by me or anyone who knew Gary and saw him smile.”
When Hall asked if she wanted to speak, Mattison conferred quietly with her attorney, Tucker Stanclift, then spoke in a quavering voice that was punctuated with sobs.
“I am ashamed of not protecting my son,” Mattison said, with three uniformed officers standing around her. “I think every day about Gary. I cry every night. I regret not protecting him like I should have.
Mattison, 24, pleaded guilty to felony hindering prosecution for lying to police to cover for Warrington when the two were questioned Nov. 15, as the boy clung to life. She testified against him at trial.
She faced a maximum of 1 1-3 to 4 years in prison.
Shock incarceration is a program that is similar in nature to a military boot camp regimen, but it incorporates intensive substance abuse treatment and academic education. There are several facilities in the state including in the Essex County town of Moriah.
Mattison will have to be accepted in to the program by the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, but Hall immediately began the process in court Tuesday.
In beginning to explain his decision, Hall said that after a jury’s guilty verdict and with all the other evidence, sentencing Warrington to the maximum of 25 years to life was fairly simple.
“A case like this is much more difficult,” Hall said, noting he had to weigh Mattison’s testimony at Warrington’s trial against her changing story earlier in the case.
“She did come forward and testify, but I can’t say she was fully cooperative,” he said. “Her testimony was important, but while she was in jail, she wrote five to 10 letters that had different stories.”
Hall added an additional thought.
“She did not do what most people would expect a mother to do to protect her child,” he said.
Prior to Hall’s explanation, Stanclift took exception to the possibility of anything other than the minimum sentence, which would have involved Mattison being released for time served and put on probation for five years, being handed down.
He also emphasized she had not admitted to anything other than lying to police.
“She is convicted in the public eye of much more than that, but not in the court,” Stanclift said.
He contended Mattison’s testimony helped convict Warrington and, therefore, she deserved the minimum sentence.
Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan disagreed.
“I take exception to the idea that, but for Jennie Mattison, there would have been no conviction,” Hogan said. “There was abundant medical testimony about the violence done to that child.”
Mattison’s mother, Dawn Wheeler, said after the sentencing she thought the sentence was fair and that the shock program was what her daughter needed.
“I think it’s going to be good for her,” she said. “She needs to get her life on track.”
Warrington, 25, of Glens Falls, was convicted June 11 of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He will be eligible for parole from prison in November 2037.
Tuesday’s sentencing was the third attempt to decide how long Mattison would spend in prison. The initial sentencing was scheduled for June, but it was postponed so that the Warren County Probation Department could prepare a pre-sentence report. The report had to include her testimony against Warrington.
Last week, an afternoon hearing was called off by court officials, who said they felt a morning hearing would reduce the possibility of intoxication among family members in court.
The court was extremely quiet Tuesday, with about 40 people attending, very few of them family members.
There were more than a dozen court officers and other law-enforcement members present. There was little audible reaction to the sentence.
Mattison’s other son, Braxton Warrington, was born Oct. 29 and has been in foster care since his parents' arrest for Carpenter's death, and Wheeler said a family court hearing on his custody will be held at the end of July or early August.
Jennie Mattison indicated earlier this month she wanted custody, but that will not be possible while she is in prison.
Wheeler would like visitation rights with Braxton, and added that at least one member of the Warrington family is seeking custody.
Warren County social services officials are pursuing civil charges against Mattison that accuse her of neglecting and/or abusing both children.