A Milo man will likely serve 25 years in state prison after pleading guilty Monday to manslaughter in the death of his 1-month-old son.

Reginald Melvin, 30, was charged with depraved indifference murder on Aug. 31, 2021, two days after his son, Sylus, died from multiple blunt-force injuries. Melvin pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter days before he was scheduled for trial, according to a clerk at the Piscataquis County Superior Court.

Reginald Melvin Photo courtesy of Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office

Under a deal with prosecutors, Melvin will be sentenced to 30 years with all but 25 suspended, followed by six years of probation. His attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker, said they’re still deciding what conditions to impose during his probation. Superior Court Justice Bruce Mallonee is scheduled to consider the agreement Wednesday and impose the sentence.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who prosecuted the case, was not available Thursday to discuss the decision to reduce Melvin’s charge to manslaughter, according to a spokesperson for the Office of the Maine Attorney General. The murder charge carried a minimum 25-year sentence. Manslaughter convictions have no minimum.

Sylus died on Aug. 29, 2021. In a police affidavit that led to Melvin’s arrest, Sylus’ mother said she woke up that morning to find Melvin holding the baby, who was already cold and unconscious.

He was one of more than two dozen children whose deaths were flagged that year by the Office of Children and Family Services. Of those cases, Melvin was one of four parents who faced criminal charges and whose OCFS files state lawmakers subpoenaed last year.


The other cases include Jessica Trefethen, who was found guilty of depraved indifference murder in October and sentenced to 47 years behind bars in December; Hillary Goding, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in September for her daughter’s overdose death and was sentenced to 26 years, all but 19 suspended, in November; and Ronald Harding, who was found guilty of manslaughter on March 2 and is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 19, according to a clerk for the Penobscot County Superior Court.

The Office of Children and Family Services provided the state’s watchdog agency, the Office of Program Evaluation and Accountability, with records of its dealings with Trefethen and Goding after they were sentenced. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Children and Family Services, will release a memo of the agency’s involvement with Melvin after he’s sentenced, DHHS spokesperson Jackie Farwell said.


The day Sylus died, his mother, Desiree Newbert, told police that Melvin had a history of domestic violence and threatening their family, according to an affidavit written by Maine State Police Detective Andrew Peirson.

Newbert said that while she was giving birth to Sylus in July 2021, Melvin threatened to kill everyone in the family. A week before Sylus’ death, Newbert said she tried calling the police after Melvin hit her in the face and choked her. She reached a non-emergency line and an operator told her to call 911, she said. Melvin took her phone before she could make the second call. Police never responded to the incident, the affidavit states.

A criminal background check through the Maine State Bureau of Identification shows that Melvin has multiple prior convictions and arrests for domestic violence charges and violating protection orders dating to 2013.


The affidavit shows Newbert was quickly suspicious of Melvin, asking him in front of officers about injuries under Sylus’ eye and why her makeup bag was open. She had already told Melvin not to care for the baby because of what he said at the hospital.

“She specifically stated that she has told Reginald not to do his care because, ‘He doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing,’ ” Peirson wrote.

Melvin denied harming Sylus, who had at least two visible injuries noted in the affidavit: a bruise under his eye, and a cut on his right cheek. Melvin never explained how the injuries occurred, the affidavit states.

A medical examiner found multiple signs of blunt force trauma all over Sylus’ body, Peirson wrote.


Newbert had just fed Sylus around 3 a.m. before falling asleep, police said.


“The last thing she told Reginald was ‘Don’t touch the baby, he’s good until his next feeding,'” the affidavit states.

Melvin hated to hear the baby cry, Newbert told one detective. If Sylus started crying he would scream things like “(expletive) shut that baby up or I’ll slam it into the wall,” Newbert said.

She said she was afraid to leave them alone together and her mother would come over during the day to care for Sylus while she slept.

Newbert said she woke up to the sound of Melvin at the front door. He was holding Sylus and she asked Melvin to support the baby’s head. Melvin told her he was trying to get Sylus to breathe again, the affidavit states.

She grabbed the baby and asked Melvin to call 911. When Melvin told her he “couldn’t get through,” Newbert said she called 911 from her cellphone. An operator talked Newbert through CPR until paramedics arrived, according to the affidavit.

Local and state police conducted several interviews with Newbert and Melvin that day as Sylus was transported to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.


Before storming out of the interview room and leaving the hospital, Melvin said he had taken Sylus to his bed early that morning while Newbert was sleeping in a reclining chair by Sylus’ cradle. Melvin said he made the baby a bottle and was going to feed him. He propped Sylus and the bottle up on a blanket and left for “about 10 seconds to 10 minutes,” Melvin told police, to use the restroom. Melvin said he then heard Sylus “scream” and ran to get the baby and started patting him on the back.

Newbert told detectives that she noticed her makeup bag was open in the bathroom, and there were makeup stains on Sylus’ onesie when Melvin was holding him. Sylus also was wearing a different onesie than the camouflage, Winnie-the-Pooh outfit he was wearing when she fell asleep.

Investigators later found several items in the home – washcloths, fitted crib sheets, a pillow, and a baby dinosaur blanket – that all had blood stains.

“(Newbert) couldn’t help but think he had been dead for some time,” Peirson wrote.

This story has been updated to correct the length of the sentence.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.