Man sentenced in 'horrific' child abuse case

Man sentenced in 'horrific' child abuse case

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A judge sentenced Cristian Degregory to 40 years in prison in what one expert witness testified was "the most horrific case of child abuse that she had ever seen."

Last week a unanimous jury in Orleans Parish found Degregory guilty of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.

According to prosecutors, the 5-year-old victim was taken to the hospital in May of 2015 with multiple life-threatening injuries.

A news release from District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office says the child's brain was bleeding and required an immediate emergency procedure. The child also had a broken arm and rib. There were burns to his cheek, shoulder and both wrists. He was missing teeth and fingernails. There was a gash under one eye and a broken lip.

At the time, the child's mother, Heather Simpson and her live-in boyfriend, Degregory, told police the boy had gotten hurt rough-housing with his 3-year-old sister.  Police arrested both that night.

A search of the home uncovered a cell phone with video from a week earlier that showed the boy suffering from many of the same physical injuries he had when he was taken to the hospital.

At trial, prosecutors produced evidence that Degregory had called EMS on the night the video was taken. But he later canceled the call and would not allow EMS to examine the child.

An expert in pediatric medicine who testified for prosecutors broke down in tears when she was shown the video. She said the child needed to be in an emergency room that night.

On May 12, the victim's mother, Heather Simpson, pleaded guilty to second-degree cruelty to a juvenile. She will be sentenced July 13.

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro calls it "one of the worst cases of child abuse that I have ever seen in my long career working in the criminal justice system."

Degregory's sentence may be increased. The state has filed a multiple bill asking that he be sentenced as a third-time felony offender. It could mean a sentence of as long as 80 years.

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