Man gets 46 years in torture death of 3-year-old

Man gets 46 years in torture death of 3-year-old
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - A Benton County judge sentenced Shawn Wesley Field to more than 46 years in prison for torturing and killing a 3-year-old girl.
     
"In my almost 20 years in criminal justice, this is one of the worst cases of brutality I have ever seen," Judge Janet Holcomb said to a packed courtroom Wednesday.
     
Field, 35, was convicted of murder in the June 3, 2005, death of Karla Sheehan, the daughter of Field's then-girlfriend, Sarah Sheehan.
     
Joan Demarest, the deputy district attorney, said during the trial that Field abused Karla as part of a plan to get money.

She said Field learned that Karla's father, David Sheehan, made "a lot of money" and suggested to Sarah Sheehan that she get full custody of Karla and child support payments by claiming her former husband was hurting their daughter.
     
An unresolved issue from the case was the state Department of Human Services' finding in the fall of 2004 that Karla's injuries were self-inflicted. Delynn Zoller, Karla's day-care provider, notified DHS that she thought the girl might be the victim of abuse.
     
Karla seemed exhausted, had unexplained bruises, and was losing her hair and beginning to stutter. After two investigations, DHS workers decided that Karla's case was "unfounded for abuse."
     
The judge, in her remarks Wednesday, cited a "continuum of failure" in the response to Karla's abuse over the course of the last eight months of her life. She said the community was due for some deep soul-searching about whether timely intervention might have saved the child.
     
"If we are really willing to look at ourselves, this might be the one good that comes from this tragedy," Holcomb said.
     
But the community did not beat Karla to death, she said. That was Field's act alone.
     
"Mr. Field, this is a very sober moment for our community," Holcomb said. "When you dealt the last blow, you dealt a blow to the entire community."
     
Karla's family members were pleased with the sentences.
     
"I think it sends a strong message from this community - that we're not going to tolerate scumbags like Shawn Field," David Sheehan said.
     
Field's parents, Hugh and Ann Field, were not in court. They don't believe their son is guilty, and said so in letters submitted to the judge.
     
"None of the evidence that we have been privy to or anything that we have heard in the courtroom," Ann Field wrote, "can ever convince us that YOU are the one who could take a child's life!"
 
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)