Dylan Huston is to receive a 16-year prison term for fatally injuring his newborn daughter in 2014.
Huston, who was in 2015 indicted in the death of Jenabelle Carrera Ross, on Friday pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and reckless child abuse causing serious bodily injury.
Huston on Friday also pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary for his role in the burglary of a Paonia home in 2014. The plea agreement in the burglary case calls for a 10-year prison term.
According to the child abuse indictment, Huston's two-week-old daughter sustained fractured ribs and a stomach tear. She's said to have died of complications associated with the stomach laceration.
Huston had been alone with the baby on Feb. 2, 2014. When the mother returned home, she "could hear popping sounds" coming from Jenabelle's chest, the indictment says.
The baby was taken to the hospital in Delta, where she was found to be in such bad shape that she couldn't be flown to Denver for treatment. She was taken to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction; there, doctors found a 3-centimeter tear in her stomach, an "abnormal injury," the indictment stated. Jenabelle was placed on life support, but died Feb. 5, 2014.
According to the indictment, Huston told police Jenabelle could've sustained pre-birth injuries when her mother was in a car crash, been swaddled too tight, or injured when she was intubated at the hospital.
But doctors said intubation didn't cause the stomach tear, that swaddling could not cause the injuries, and that the car crash hadn't caused any notable pregnancy complications. Further, Jenabelle would not have survived two weeks after birth with a hole in her stomach, doctors said.
The baby's pediatric exam just days before her death showed a normal abdomen.
In Delta District Court Friday, Huston answered "guilty" when asked how he was pleading to criminally negligent homicide, child abuse and burglary. When asked if he understood the plea agreements, Huston replied, "yeah."
He will receive no presentence confinement credit against the 10 years to be imposed for burglary; the sentence is concurrent with the homicide sentence, for which he is to receive pre-sentence credit starting from Nov. 17, 2018.
Sentencing was set for June 25.
"This case is five and a half years old. It was time to get it resolved," district attorney Dan Hotsenpiller said, deferring further comment until after sentencing, other than saying the child's mother supported the plea agreement.
Huston's criminal history includes felony impersonation in Mesa County, theft from an at-risk adult in Delta County, and traffic offenses.
In South Dakota, he pleaded guilty to drug distribution, according to public records.
Federal court records also show Huston was indicted in 2015 on firearms offenses occurring in South Dakota in 2014. In 2016 he was sentenced to 27 months in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. This sentence was concurrent to the sentence in his South Dakota drug case, according to federal documents.