A 27-year-old man was high on methamphetamine when he threw 15-month-old Maddox Viergge. The toddler died days later from head wounds that caused a brain bleed.
Charles Connetti III, of Kiln, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in March. On Tuesday, Judge Larry Bourgeois sentenced the man to 40 years, with 15 years suspended and 25 years to serve day-for-day.
During the hearing, Connetti, who was the boyfriend of the boy's mother, apologized to Maddox's family and said he accepts his punishment.
"That day, I did the stupidest thing in my life. If I had not done this, he wouldn’t have passed away," Connetti said. "I think about him all of the time, and I take responsibility for what I have done that caused her to lose her son.
"I am really sorry — I really am."
Connetti's charges were amended to second degree murder at the request of Maddox's family. Bourgeois said he considered the family during sentencing.
“[A] fifteen month old child lost his life. He had not even started living yet. I can’t bring him back, I wish I could, but no one can do it," he said. "Children are the lifeblood of any community — our most precious asset. A child looks to his mother and father figures for every need — love, food and shelter.
"You stand here convicted of murder of a child. You are about to lose your freedom.”
Connetti originally was indicted on a capital murder charge because the killing occurred during the commission of a second crime, felony child abuse. Second-degree murder refers to homicide by someone with a “depraved heart” who did not plan the crime in advance.
While entering his guilty plea in March, Connetti recounted what happened the morning of March 31, 2016.
He said he went outside his mother's house to do meth. His mom then sent him to get milk for the children, he said, and when he returned he did more meth. When he re-entered the home, his mother told him to give Maddox some milk, he said.
Connetti took Maddox outside and tried to give him milk, he recalled, but the toddler was crying and he couldn't get the 15-month-old to stop.
Connetti said he threw Maddox, thinking he would land on a trunk, but instead he hit the ground. The Kiln man then brought the unconscious boy inside and the family called for help. Maddox died April 3, 2016, at Ochsner Hospital in New Orleans.
According to a release from the District Attorney's office, Maddox's grandmother thanked the sheriff's office, DA's staff and medical professionals who tried to save the toddler. Said his mother:
“[E]very time I want to see my baby, I have to go to his grave, and it feels like I am dying inside,” she said.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel prosecuted the case.