Sentencing in the case against 22-year-old Jessica Fraraccio, who killed 23-month-old Elijah Nealey, has left his family reeling from the injustice they feel has occurred.
Fraraccio received a five-year sentence for the felony murder of Elijah. Nealey and his family had hoped for a 50-year sentence, and expected at least 40 years, he told The Huffington Post.
"Once the verdict was read, I didn’t even fully comprehend it until after I’d left the courtroom and it all started sinking in," Nealey said. "The anger has started to really build up since Monday. It still doesn't make sense."
Fraraccio was Elijah's babysitter for seven months prior to his death. In August 2012, fourteen months after the death of Elijah, she admitted to killing him because he would not stop crying while eating his lunch. Prior to her admission, she claimed he had slipped in a bathtub and hit his head.
Elijah was eating lunch in his chair when he would not stop crying. Fraraccio kicked the chair out from under him and he hit his head on the table, then the floor.
He continued to cry so Fraraccio picked him up with one arm, like a football, covered his mouth with her hand and slammed his head against the stair railing while walking around the home. Elijah's body went limp; she had smothered him to death.
Fraraccio was sentenced to 50 years, but 45 years were suspended. In addition to her prison sentence she is required to send a check of at least a dollar to a charity of her choice on the date of Elijah's death every year after release.
Gasps were heard in the courtroom when Judge J. Howe Brown read the verdict, reports The Washington Post.
"Nothing I can do brings back Elijah or makes them feel better,” the judge said about the boy’s parents. In regards to Fraraccio, he said, “Likewise, nothing I can do to punish her is more important than her memory of what she did.”
Mike Nealey does not agree with the Judge's decision.
"His decision shows no respect whatsoever for me, my family, or the life of my son," Nealey said. "I know no punishment is going to bring my son back. I know that. I definitely know that. But five years? That is not a punishment. And it will be even less time, because she’s already been in jail for nine months."
Elijah's mother Jennifer Nealey spoke about the dread she faces telling her two daughters how their brother died, as well as sharing the news with his playmates.
"Because of her, my friends’ children are going to have to learn that lesson way before they should have to. They’re going to have to know that there are monsters in this world."
Defense attorney Sandra Drewniak sees things a great deal differently, telling The Huffington Post that Fraraccio had a mental health break and "just kind of snapped."
"This accident was truly an accident. She is not a monster,” Drewniak said.
As for Fraraccio, she spoke out after Jennifer Nealey talked about the pain of losing her child during the hearing.
“I just want to tell the Nealeys how sorry I truly am,” Fraraccio said. “I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to forgive myself — I really did love Elijah.”
An online petition has started in hopes of getting Judge Brown removed from the bench.