The family of 23-month-old Elijah Nealey was outraged after most of the sentence given to his killer babysitter was suspended, and the judge made her promise to donate a dollar each year on the anniversary of the child’s death.
Jessica Fraraccio, 22, was convicted of felony murder in Elijah’s 2012 death. He was found beaten to death in his Virginia home just weeks before his second birthday.
Fraraccio, who had no criminal history before her arrest, was sentenced to 50 years in prison on Monday. Judge J. Howe Brown suspended 45 years and ordered her to make a $1 donation to charity each year after her release on the anniversary of Elijah’s death.
Audible gasps were heard in the courtroom when they learned she would only serve five years in jail.
The toddler’s grandmother called the sentence “an insult.”
Brown admitted he knew others would disagree, but he didn’t feel 50 years was appropriate.
"His decision shows no respect whatsoever for me, my family, or the life of my son," said the boy’s father, Mike Nealey said.
"I want to get the word out to as many people that will listen, what kind of injustice [Elijah] received from the courts. To me, it’s a total failure of our justice system. I want everyone to know what the judge thought my son’s life was worth...which is pretty much nothing, according to him,” he said.
A petition to remove Judge Brown from the bench has more than 6,500 signatures on Sunday.
“This monster deserves the full sentence, and Judge Brown deserves to lose his appointment. It is an outrage,” the petition says.
Fraraccio, a devout Catholic with a “submissive personality,” originally told investigators that Elijah had slipped in the bathtub and hit his head.
Fourteen months later, she pleaded guilty to killing him.
She admitted to kicking his chair out from under him because he was crying. The baby hit his head on the table and then on the floor. He continued to cry and she slammed his head on the railing of the stairs.
She said his body was limp when she put him down.
"There’s no forgiveness," Elijah’s father said. "I don’t care what other people say, there’s no forgiving something like that."