By Randall Beach, Register Staff rbeach@nhregister.com Click to enlarge NEW HAVEN -- There was weeping and sobbing on both sides of the courtroom Friday as David Canizares was sent to prison for nine years for first-degree manslaughter in the death of his 4-month-old niece, Makayla Lynn Masella Aseltine. The lengthy sentencing session, which featured the reading of statements from the infant’s family and Canizares’ relatives, came four months after Canizares pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge and risk of injury to a minor. He pleaded guilty under the Alford doctrine, meaning he did not agree with every allegation but conceded he would probably have been convicted by a jury. Under the agreement by prosecutors and the defense attorney, Canizares was to receive a sentence of between 7-10 years to serve. Superior Court Judge Roland Fasano imposed a 16-year sentence for manslaughter, suspended after nine years and a concurrent sentence of nine years for risk of injury. Canizares, 36, came to court with family members and friends from several states and Colombia. He was able to post $1 million bail two years ago and so appeared in the courtroom dressed in a suit and tie rather than a prison jumpsuit. Across the aisle sat Makayla’s mother and father as well as her grandparents and many other relatives and supporters. Some of them carried photos of the infant girl. The details of what happened the night of Oct. 25, 2009, when Canizares was entrusted to babysit his niece as well as taking care of his 14-month-old daughter were recited in the courtroom by Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Doyle and Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Sibley Sr. “Nobody wants to believe that an uncle would kill his 4-month-old niece,” Doyle said. He noted Canizares had no criminal record at the time and the night’s events were “out of character.” Doyle then screened a short video showing Makayla in her home shortly before her death. As she played with a toy and put her fingers in her mouth, crying could be heard in the courtroom. Doyle followed up the video with photos from the hospital, showing Makayla heavily bandaged from her injuries. He listed them: a large bruise in her left eye, an abrasion on her skull, hemorrhages throughout her body, marks on her bicep and palms as well as more extensive internal injuries. Doyle said the brain injuries are “what killed Makayla.” The examination at the hospital and during the autopsy “show the degree of trauma she suffered at this defendant’s hands,” Doyle added. Doyle also cited “the extreme indifference the defendant showed” by not calling 911 as soon as he realized he had hurt Makayla. His wife at the time, Melissa Canizares, and Makayla’s mother, Karen Masella, had gone out to see a show at Oakdale Theater. Doyle displayed a text message Canizares sent to one of them at 8:46 p.m.: “Does she go limp when she sleeps?” At 9:08 p.m., after the two women had gotten out of the show and turned their cell phones back on, Melissa Canizares told him, “You need to call 911.” Canizares did so. Doyle played the 911 tape, in which you can hear the baby breathing in the background. Canizares reported to the dispatcher, “She’s limp. She’s breathing but she’s not waking up to me. I don’t know what more to do.” Sibley recalled that when a paramedic arrived, he could tell something was wrong with the baby. Sibley recounted Canizares’ initial statement to North Haven police that he had changed Makayla’s diaper because she was crying. “That’s the trigger that ended Makayla’s life: a dirty diaper,” Sibley said. “His daughter reached for it. David got so angry that he started whipping her (Makayla) around. He said as he reached for the diaper, he crushed her between his thigh and chest.” But in a later police interview, Sibley noted, “We got closer to what might have happened.” Sibley said Canizares admitted he meant to tap Makayla on her cheek but “he hit her a little harder than he’d intended to. He struck her with the heel of his hand to her face.” Sibley said this caused “catastrophic injury.” Sibley told Fasano, “When you kill an infant who doesn’t even have the ability to roll over, let alone defend herself and you beat her to death, the maximum sentence under this cap should be imposed.” But defense attorney Hugh Keefe said, “There is not an iota of evidence that this child was beaten in any way. This was an accident.” During the prosecution’s presentation, several family members read angry and emotional statements. “He’s a monster,” said Lynn Aseltine, Makayla’s grandmother as she described Canizares. “How could he look in her little face and do this to her?” Aseltine cried and held up a photo of Makayla while Canizares stared straight ahead in his seat. Makayla’s father, Timothy Aseltine, said she must have felt “fear, confusion and pain for the first time” that night. He imagined she was wondering, “Why are you hitting me, Uncle Dave?” Aseltine asked Canizares: “How can you look down at a baby and punch her in the head, full strength?” Aseltine said he has lost his job, his house and his wife because he is “crushed” by the loss of his daughter. “She’ll never look up at me and say, ‘I love you, Daddy.’” Aseltine also said he can’t understand why Canizares isn’t eligible for a murder charge because intent can’t be proven. “Punching a child in the head is like shooting an adult.” Makayla’s mother, who has remarried and is now Karen Masella-Chartier, said the past three years have been “horrific and painful.” She added, “We’re all in prison for life.” She called Canizares “an evil murderer” and said, “Only a heartless monster could strike a child several times and neglect to call 911.” But Keefe then called forward several of Canizares’ relatives and supporters to paint a very different portrait of the man. His mother, Diane Quinn, said her son has always been “a kind, caring, responsible and generous person.” She said when she divorced her husband, David became a surrogate parent for his younger siblings. Quinn described her son’s joy when his daughter, Noella, was born. He was her primary caregiver, working at home. She asked Fasano to impose a short sentence so that he can return to Noella and the rest of the family. Canizares’ cousin, Monica Rosencrist, said her two young daughters adore him and he is their godfather. She said he has been a very positive influence for them. Canizares’ aunt, Gail Anderson Canizares, praised his “kindness, gentleness and strength of character.” She described him as a “gentle giant” and “adoring godfather.” Finally, Canizares’ father, Luis Canizares, called him “a good, kind-hearted person.” He asked for the shortest possible sentence “so that David can return to us to enrich our lives with his exemplary spirit.” And then Canizares himself rose to speak. “There is no way to convey the sadness I feel today,” he said. “Had I the chance, I’d take Makayla’s place, so she could be back with her family.” He said he wished everyone in the family “peace in the coming years.” He concluded, “I truly am so very sorry for this tragic accident.” As Fasano imposed the sentence, he said the crime was “an horrific instant in an otherwise blameless existence.” He acknowledged the 63 letters of glowing support but added, “I couldn’t help but think that there’s some sort of fatal flaw.” Fasano told Canizares he had committed “an outrageous breach of trust.” When Canizares was handcuffed and led away, he turned for a last look at his family. Loud applause broke out from several members of Makayla’s supporters as they saw him depart in custody. After court adjounred, Karen Masella-Chartier said no sentence could be sufficient except life in prison. Timothy Aseltine said, “The children of Connecticut can sleep a little safer tonight because there is one less monster hiding in the dark.” Call Randall Beach at 203-789-5766.


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Please make note that I, Jessica Lynn Hepner the creator of What Every Parent Should Know, is not giving legal advice. I am not a lawyer. I am giving you knowledge via first hand experiences.

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Save A Life by Angie Kassabie

Save A Life by Angie Kassabie
I URGE ALL MY FRIENDS TO READ & SHARE THIS; YOU COULD SAVE A LOVED ONES LIFE BY KNOWING THIS SIMPLE INFORMATION!!! Stroke has a new indicator! They say if you forward this to ten people, you stand a chance of saving one life. Will you send this along? Blood Clots/Stroke - They Now Have a Fourth Indicator, the Tongue: During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) ...she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Jane's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 PM Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead. It only takes a minute to read this. A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough. >>RECOGNIZING A STROKE<< Thank God for the sense to remember the '3' steps, STR. Read and Learn! Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions: S *Ask the individual to SMILE. T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (i.e. Chicken Soup) R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS. If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke. A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people; you can bet that at least one life will be saved. I have done my part. Will you?

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