Poultney Man Sentenced in Toddler's Death

RUTLAND, Vt. - More than three years after the death of two-year old Dezirae Sheldon, her stepfather, Dennis Duby was sentenced for his role in her death.

"My actions have affected a lot of people's lives both inside and outside of this courtroom, I am not asking for forgiveness for I will never forgive myself... If I could bring Dezirae I would, I would give my life and soul,” said Duby during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing.

The 35 year-old was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, 13 to be served behind bars and he'll get probation for the rest. Duby pleaded guilty to second degree murder earlier this year.

"With what we had, having a conviction for second-degree murder was really important to us and we are grateful the judge accepted the plea agreement,” said Rose Kennedy, Rutland County State’s Attorney.

In February 2014, court documents show Duby was watching the toddler at a Poultney apartment. On Tuesday, prosecutors say Duby told police she had been crying for her mother, he became frustrated and used his foot to move her. That's when she fell backwards and hit her head off the floor. Sheldon suffered severe injuries to her head, including multiple fractures to her skull. The two-year old died two days later at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. However, prosecutors say the severity of Sheldon's injuries did not add up with Duby's story.

Kennedy said, "We would like to truly know what happened in the house and the answer is of course yes but sometimes we don't get that evidence."

Prior to Sheldon's death, her mother Sandra Eastman was charged with child cruelty after Dezirae was taken to the hospital with broken bones. During Sandra's statement Tuesday, she was critical of DCF.

Eastman said, "DCF apparently now want a big pat on the back for all the changes they have made, but they will receive no praise from me... As far as I am concerned they should have done their job to start with and my daughter would still be alive today."

Sheldon's death and another case in Winooski led to changes to child protection in Vermont, including increased staffing levels across the state.

Eastman said in court she doesn't support the plea agreement, she says none of it brings her daughter back. "13 years in prison is an insult to me personally and is downright insult to the memory and in no way is this true justice."

Duby will serve his time at the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility.
 


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