QUEENSBURY -- Gary L. Waite was sentenced to the maximum prison term of 25-years-to-life Thursday for the murder of his toddler son after he told the judge “I wish that it turned out differently” but offered no apology.
Waite, 30, of Glens Falls will have to serve 25 years before becoming eligible for parole for the February 2012 killing of Jesse Smith.
Waite spoke slowly when he told Warren County Judge John Hall that wished he was “stronger” to call 911 when his son was hurt, but that he “couldn’t talk.”
Hall rejected his explanation, and said Waite’s sobbing heard on a 911 tape when his sister called for medical help for the badly injured boy was “too little, too late.”
Waite’s comments came after the judge heard from Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan and an aunt of Smith, Tricia Genier, who both asked for the maximum.
Genier read a statement from Jesse’s mother, Lisa Younes, who Genier said was not in court because she was hospitalized with the flu.
She said that the decision to remove the gravely injured boy from life support as his condition deteriorated was the hardest she ever had to make.
“They say as time goes by it will get easier, but losing Jesse will never get easier,” Genier read.
Hogan said Waite did not take any responsibility for his actions, and pointed to the testimony of a neighbor who heard the boy being beaten and medical experts who told of how much force was needed to cause the head injuries Jesse suffered.
Waite stayed with his injured son in the Orville Street home for hours without calling for help as the boy’s condition worsened, Hogan said.
“He sat and watched this innocent 15-month-old baby suffer an agonizing death,” she said.
A Warren County jury convicted Waite of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter -- both felonies -- and the misdemeanor of endangering the welfare of a child for the boy’s death. The convictions came Nov. 20 after a seven-day trial.
Waite was found guilty of a murder charge that requires a person have “depraved indifference to human life” when killing another person, a controversial standard because of conflicting appeals court rulings.
Waite’s lawyer, Marc Zuckerman, asked for less than the maximum sentence, saying Waite cared about his son and sought help for him
“You made a decision ... this was not depraved indifference murder,” Zuckerman said to the judge.
Hogan and Hall disagreed, pointing out that case law changed between Hall’s dismissal and the trial.
Zuckerman said he believed his client was trying to show remorse when he made his statement, but he is “ineloquent.”
He said his client tried to help his son, and that attempt at assistance should result in the murder charge being dismissed on appeal.
Genier said the family was satisfied with the maximum sentence because they knew it was all that was possible.
“He didn’t say anything. He never once said he was sorry,” said Tammie Rivers, a grandmother of Jesse.
She, like many relatives of the boy, wore a t-shirt with Jesse’s picture and nickname “Mr. Magoo” on it with the phrase “Fight against child abuse” above it.
Zuckerman filed a notice of appeal after Thursday’s proceeding.