FORT EDWARD -- The Fort Edward man who killed his girlfriend's infant son last summer pleaded guilty Thursday to a manslaughter charge with the understanding a murder count filed against him will be dismissed.
Kevin W. King showed little emotion as he pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the death of 3-month-old Brett King last Aug. 11.
He did not tell Judge Kelly McKeighan what he did to cause the baby's death. Instead, he replied "Yes, sir" when the judge asked him whether he acted recklessly and caused the child's death.
King told police in August that he threw the baby to the floor of the Lydius Street apartment he shared with the child's mother.
King, 30, agreed to a plea deal that will result in a 20-year state prison term to be followed by 5 years on parole.
Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said he concluded the evidence against King was insufficient to prove the second-degree murder charge, so King was allowed to plead guilty to the lesser count.
King was charged with murder under the "depraved indifference to human life" theory of law. But Jordan said the evidence did not include actions that would rise to that level of proof.
Specifically, there was no prolonged incident of abuse or multiple incidents, and no long time period between when the injuries occurred and when help was summoned.
"Unfortunately, in this case we do not feel the facts support the charge," Jordan said.
He said he spoke with the baby's mother, Alexandra Diaz, about the situation and she was "disappointed" but "understood and supported the decision to move forward the way we did today."
"I think their disappointment is the way the statute is written," he said.
Diaz could not be reached later Thursday.
King's lawyer, Washington County Public Defender Michael Mercure, said Jordan's office made the right decision in consenting to a plea to manslaughter.
"This conviction is what I expected after trial," he said. "There is a strong indication the defendant acted under an extreme emotional disturbance that would have been a defense to murder, and as tragic as his conduct was, it did not rise to the level of depraved indifference."
King had no prior criminal record and "this tragic incident was totally out of character for him," Mercure added.
Mercure was preparing a defense that the baby's crying and King's excessive video playing created an "extreme emotional disturbance" that led to his actions.
If the jury accepted that defense, he would have been acquitted of murder and found guilty of first-degree manslaughter instead.
King's mother, Elizabeth Braman, tearfully defended him after the hearing and said she was gratified he wasn't going to prison for the rest of his life.
She said he loved the child, who he thought was his biological son until learning he wasn't through DNA tests done after the death. He was stressed by problems at work that resulted in his losing hours, but that is not an excuse for what he did, she said.
"I'm a mother who realizes when you do something wrong, there's a price to pay," she said.
Second-degree murder is punishable by a minimum of 15-years-to-life in prison and a maximum of 25-years-to life.
King will have to serve slightly under 18 years before becoming eligible for parole. He will spend 5 years on parole after his release.
He is to be sentenced Feb. 14 and is being held in Washington County Jail pending sentencing.