A 22-year-old babysitter will spend the next five years of her life behind bars after murdering a 23-month-old child, and now, the young boy’s family is outraged at her light sentence.
Jessica Fraraccio of Manassas, Virginia was babysitting young Elijah Nealey the night he died, and initially, Fraraccio told authorities that the boy slipped in the tub and hit his head. Months later, however, it came out that it didn’t actually happen that way at all and the killing seemed to be more intentional.
Nealey was reportedly crying the night that he was killed and Fraraccio had gotten so frustrated that she pulled a chair out from under him, causing him to hit his head. The boy reportedly cried harder, so the babysitter carried him around the house upside down and whacked his head against other hard objects. Eventually, Fraraccio plugged his mouth and nose with her hand so that he stopped breathing, and eventually, the 23-month-old died.
Fraraccio pleaded guilty to the murder in October, and Judge J. Howe Brown initially had plans to sentence the woman to 50 years. In the end, however, he decided to change his mind, and now Fraraccio will only spend five years in prison in addition to being required to send a check of at least $1 to a charity of her choosing for the rest of her life.
“Nothing I can do brings back Elijah or makes them feel better,” said Judge Brown of Elijah’s parents. “Likewise, nothing I can do to punish her [Fraraccio] is more important than her memory of what she did.”
Elijah’s parents say they are outraged that Fraraccio only got five years in jail for killing their son in such a brutal way.
“I don’t know what would be right,” said Mike Nealey, Elijah’s father. “Not five years. That’s definitely not right.”
Elijah’s mother Jennifer Nealey says that she dreads the day that she has to explain to her other children how their brother died and even expressed sadness in the eventual explanation to her son’s playmates.
“Because of her, my friends’ children are going to have to learn that lesson way before they should have to,” said Jennifer. “They’re going to have to know that there are monsters in this world.”
During the sentencing hearing, Fraraccio expressed remorse over what she had done.
“I just want to tell the Nealeys how sorry I truly am,” said Fraraccio. “I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to forgive myself — I really did love Elijah.”
It isn’t clear if Elijah’s family will attempt to fight the five-year sentence, but many people are outraged at the judge’s decision.