Two stepsisters who shared the same set of parents since they were 7 faced each other in District Court on Wednesday, one in handcuffs and both in tears.
One sister, Tia Green, brought Christian Dircio into life; the other, Kathy Patton, ended it.
Green stood beside Patton’s father, who is her biological mother’s husband, as Patton was sentenced to spend 15 years to life in prison Wednesday for the murder of the 5-month-old boy.
The sentence was previously agreed upon by Patton, her lawyer, Andrea Luem, and prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo.
Before District Judge Elizabeth Halverson made her final decision, a distressed Patton, 29, turned to address her stepsister in the courtroom.
“I didn’t mean to hurt him,” she told Green.
“I know I deserve that,” she said of the 15-year minimum. “I love you.”
Her stepsister fell to tears after she heard Patton speak.
“For one senseless act, our family has been broken,” Green told the court.
On the morning of Feb. 6, 2006, Patton was baby-sitting Christian, and she was exhausted after doing drugs the weekend before, according to court records.
Patton called Green about 8:30 a.m. and told her the baby was not breathing.
Luem said Patton initially lied to her family about the incident.
According to the grand jury transcripts, Patton told Green that her son was crying in his swing and when she picked him up, he went stiff and then limp.
“Kathy thinks about that and talks about that every day,” Luem said.
Paramedics took Christian to University Medical Center, where doctors removed him from life support two days later.
Patton pleaded guilty two months ago to second-degree murder and one count of child abuse resulting in substantial bodily harm. She told the court then that she was agitated because the infant would not stop wailing.
“I just got so frustrated, I threw him on the floor,” she told the court at a hearing in February.
According to the grand jury transcripts, the baby’s skull was fractured and his death was caused by blunt force trauma to the head.
DiGiacomo said the amount of force used to cause the damage was tantamount to falling from a three- to five-story building.
In Patton’s evaluation by parole and probation officials conducted before sentencing, she said she had “dropped” the baby, DiGiacomo said.
Luem said Patton was only rationalizing the moment but understands the seriousness of what she did.
“The one thing that she hopes for is that her family and her sister forgive her,” Luem said.
That was also a thought held by Green.
“Maybe someday I’ll forgive my sister, but not today,” she said in court.
According to grand jury transcripts, Green and her husband had hired Patton, who was unemployed at the time, to be a daily baby sitter while they worked.
They knew she had a problem with crack cocaine, so they gave her about two weeks to get off the drugs before she started the job, Green told the grand jury.
They thought she was finished with the drugs.
On Wednesday, Green blamed drugs for the situation in which she found her family.
She defended her sister, declaring that Patton “is not a monster,” but she also displayed frustration.
“I can never see my son again, and I can never see him grow up,” she said.
Green said, “The punishment fits the crime,” and added that she hoped the sentence will help their family put Christian’s death behind them.
Had it not been her own son who was killed, she said, she never would have believed Patton capable of such an act.
People have told her to hate her stepsister, she said.
“Part of me does,” Green said. “But I still love her.”