Man gets life for beating tot to death
PROVIDENCE - A Rhode Island man was sentenced to life in prison yesterday for fatally beating his girlfriend's 3-year-old nephew because the child had spilled milk and yogurt on the rug.
Gilbert Delestre apologized for his role in the October 2004 death of Thomas "T.J." Wright, and told Providence Superior Court Judge Netti Vogel he felt ashamed and prayed each day for forgiveness.
But Vogel called him a coward and a "sick and evil" person whose only remorse was at having been caught.
"He cared more about his rug than he did about the well-being of this boy," Vogel said. "He cared more about spilled milk than he did about the safety of this boy."
Delestre was sentenced to life plus 10 years in prison, the maximum for second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Delestre must serve more than 23 years of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole, but will receive credit for the more than four years he has already spent behind bars, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general said.
Delestre received the same sentence as his former girlfriend, Katherine Bunnell, who was convicted of identical charges in a separate trial last spring.
Bunnell and Delestre were caring for the child and his two older brothers because their mother was in prison.
Prosecutors said the couple took turns beating the boy after returning home from a night out drinking and finding the mess.
Delestre testified he struck T.J. on the head, causing him to fall down a staircase, but never meant for him to die.
But the teenage baby sitter caring for the children that night said she heard several slaps after Delestre went upstairs to confront T.J. and later saw the boy flying across the floor.