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Man Gets 18 Years in Son's Death

Moises Ibarra, 25, pleads guilty to manslaughter and child abuse in the fatal shaking of the boy, who was on life support for 17 months.

June 23, 2004|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

A man accused of murdering his young son by shaking the baby and throwing him into a crib avoided a possible life sentence Tuesday by pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

Moises Ibarra, 25, was sentenced to more than 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter and felony child abuse in the death of his 20-month-old son, Christopher. The child died after being removed from life support last year.

"This is a substantial reduction of the prison sentence he could have received if the jury found him guilty," Ibarra's attorney, David Dworakowski, said of the plea agreement.

As jury selection began way Tuesday, Dworakowski said prosecutors unexpectedly brokered an offer to reduce the charge from murder to manslaughter in exchange for the guilty plea.

"Ultimately it was decided that it was in Mr. Ibarra's best interest to plead guilty to substantially reduced charges," Dworakowski said.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Kevin Haskins, who prosecuted the case, could not be reached Tuesday night.

Ibarra has been in Orange County Jail since his son's beating in December 2001 at the Cypress apartment the boy's parents shared.

The case received notoriety because the baby, who suffered serious brain damage, was kept alive for 17 months as his parents engaged in a legal battle over his fate.

His mother, Tamara Sepulveda, argued that Christopher should be allowed to die, while Ibarra said he should be kept on life support.

The case was ultimately decided by the California Supreme Court, which sided with the mother last April.

In accepting Tuesday's plea bargain, Dworakowski said Ibarra feels fortunate that he will be able to start over after prison.

"He feels devastated by the entire case," Dworakowski said. "He's still a young man. I hope he eventually can pick up the pieces and resume the life he used to have."

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