Dad gets max sentence for shaken baby death

Photo by Ellis Kaplan
By Joe Anuta

The father convicted of killing his 2-month-old daughter in 2007 by shaking her and fracturing her skull inside a Flushing apartment was sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison Monday, the Queens district attorney said.

Hang Bin Li, 28, was acquitted on murder chargers, but was found guilty of manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child last month. This week Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter imposed the maximum sentence of five to 15 years on Li. After five years, Li can apply for parole, but if his requests are denied he could serve the maximum time, according to the DA’s office.

“The sentence imposed today is a measure of justice for the defendant’s 10-week-old daughter who was senselessly killed by the person who was supposed to protect and nurture her: her very own father,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. “Instead, she suffered a violent attack and death at his hands. It can’t be stated too often that infants are fragile and must be handled with care. Never shake a child.”

At around midnight Oct. 23, 2007, 10-week-old Annie Li was admitted to Flushing Hospital Medical Center without a heartbeat or a pulse. Doctors found that the baby suffered from a fractured skull, a massive brain injury and broken legs.

It was later discovered that Annie had a genetic mutation that could cause a condition known as brittle bone disease.

At trial, Li’s defense lawyer, Ashley Cedric, argued that Li accidently bumped Annie’s head against a nightstand in a commotion after she appeared ill, and that her brittle bones made what would normally be a mild injury into a massive head trauma. Cedric contended doctors could not rule out the syndrome in their diagnosis.

The prosecution called medical witnesses who testified that Annie did not have any physical signs of brittle bone disease and that her injuries were consistent with infants who suffer from shaken baby syndrome.

Li had been incarcerated since 2008 awaiting his trial and that time served will count toward his sentence. Annie’s mother, Ying Li, had also been held in jail for years before manslaughter charges against her were finally dropped earlier this year. She was pregnant when she entered the jail and had a child while incarcerated.

Both Lis are Chinese citizens, and once Li serves his sentence, he will likely be deported, according to a Flushing activist named Michael Chu.

Chu and a group of Flushing residents were a constant presence throughout the four-week trial. Chu had maintained that the Lis fell through the cracks of the legal system and were being taken advantage of by the prosecution. He collected enough money to spring Ying Li on bail and pay some legal fees.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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