FARMINGTON — A Wilton man pleaded guilty Friday to manslaughter in the death of a 17-month-old Wilton boy he was baby-sitting last year.

Franklin County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy postponed sentencing until Thursday, Aug, 27, in the Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta so the baby’s biological father can speak on the proposed sentence.

David Allen Cook, 26, has been in jail since his arrest on Dec. 26, nearly a month after Matteo Hanson died on Nov. 29, 2008. Cook had offered to baby-sit the child while the mother, Brandy Swett and Cook’s girlfriend then, went to work as a certified nursing assistant in Farmington.

Cook initially said the baby had died after a fall down the stairs, but an autopsy showed that he died from internal injuries caused by the “application of enormous, localized force and not a fall down the stairs,” Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson said Friday.

According to a state police affidavit, the injuries were caused by a severe kick or punch to the abdomen area of the child.
If the case had gone to trial, State Police Trooper Jeffrey Love would testify on his interviews with Cook, including one on Dec. 11. Cook told him then that, “He’d been thinking a lot, and he is not sure what he should do. Cook said he would like to go to church, talk to God and meet with me at a later date when he would tell me everything I want to know.”

Testimony would also show that Love got an arrest warrant for Cook on Dec. 26, and he took Cook into custody, Benson said. Cook had taken a number of medications prior to going to jail in a suicide attempt, he said. Cook collapsed at the Franklin County jail in Farmington and was taken to the hospital.

A corrections officer would also testify that Cook said, “I thought pills would be easier.”‘ Benson said. He also said he would have used a gun but that would be too messy, and he wouldn’t do that to his parents and grandparents, Benson said.

Under questioning about how many blows the child may have suffered, Benson said a medical examiner said it appeared to be an isolated blow. The medical examiner also noted there were some old injuries that included a a fracture to the back of the child’s skull and healed rib fractures, Benson said.

There is a proposed sentencing agreement between the state and Cook for 20 years to the Maine Department of Corrections, with all but six years suspended, and four years’ probation, Benson and Cook’s attorney, David Sanders, said. Conditions include no contact with children under age 5 unless supervised.

“Mr. Cook has always felt horrible, horrible about what happened,” Sanders said. He took responsibility, though not in an appropriate manner, by attempting suicide, Sanders said.

Cook had no experience with children, he said. He offered as a favor to the mother to take care of her children, which included another young sibling.

“Matteo was crying, and he just lost his temper,” Sanders said.

No one was at the court to speak on behalf of Matteo Hanson.

Benson said the state’s victims’ advocate made 10 attempts to contact the child’s mother on the case, but there was no response.

When the justice asked about the biological father, Aaron Hanson of Livermore, attorney Curtis Rice stood up and said he represented Hanson. Rice said Hanson had a relationship with the child, and he would want to be heard on the proposed sentence.

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