By Bob Steenson, firstname.lastname@example.org
A young Boone man was sentenced this week to up to five years in prison for injuring a baby that he was taking care of in Charles City in the fall of 2016.
Twenty people sent the court letters urging the judge to show leniency, arguing that Nathan Douglas Jacobson was only 17 when the event occurred and attesting to his love of children and his generous nature.
According to a Charles City Police report and court documents, Jacobson was watching the 2-month-old child of his girlfriend when the child “suffered multiple areas of bruising on the baby’s face/head, subdural bleeding, retinal bleeding and an altered mental state as a result of being dropped, shaken and slapped.”
The incident occurred Oct. 17, 2016, in the 2200 block of Clarkview Drive in Charles City, the police report said.
Jacobson was charged with child endangerment resulting in serious injury, a Class C felony eligible for up to 10 years in prison.
On Nov. 6, 2017, Jacobson entered a written plea of guilty to the lesser charge of child endangerment resulting in bodily injury, a Class D felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison.
Twenty people who know Jacobson as family, through school or other ties sent letters to Floyd County District Court Judge DeDra Schroeder before the sentencing hearing which took place this week.
Rhesa Dane, Jacobson’s great aunt, wrote, “I have never known him to be anything but the mildest-tempered, sweetest-natured child. Though his home life was chaotic during his late childhood and teens, Nathan has, for the greatest part, remained that same soft-spoken, grounded young man I have observed for many years.”
Dane also described what she thinks happened.
“I also believe, based on my experience with Nathan, that what happened with this baby was a frightening accident; that a 17-year-old accidentally dropped the crying, twisting child while trying to get him a bottle, then panicked when he thought the child wasn’t breathing.
“He then called 911, and this all happened in about five minutes, according to what I was told. Experience with my own children and grandchildren tells me I cannot imagine not doing the same thing, if I had to revive and save a baby,” Dane wrote.
“I have had older babies twist and jump out of my arms on several occasions, effectively knocking the wind out of them for several seconds, and have slapped many a back, forcibly, thinking a baby was choking, and I was far older than seventeen. With all due respect, who with children has not?”
Rebecca Aspengren, Jacobson’s grandmother, wrote, “He fell in love with a girl who was already pregnant and welcomed the opportunity to help her through the pregnancy and delivery, delighting in their newborn son, … What he said to me when I questioned his travels to Charles City to be with (them), was that he wanted to show (her) what a loving, supportive family felt like. He was making his young family safe and secure.”
Melissa Jacobson, Jacobson’s mother, wrote, “On a visit to our house shortly after the baby was born, Nathan showed nothing but compassion, patience, and competence in caring for the child. … He was ready and willing to raise the child as his own with the baby’s mother.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Nate did everything he could to save the life of this child. That there was no intention to hurt him.”
A former football coach, Todd Smith, wrote, “I do know that Nate has a good soul and character. He simply puts himself in hard situations to help others, which costs Nate a great deal.”
Pamela Nystrom, retired school principal, wrote, “Even though there were some very chaotic times in his homelife, Nathan kept up in school and was successful. … In a way, he too was a victim of circumstances either beyond his control or due to immaturity and inexperience. I think he was trying to help the best he could. I have always observed him to be trying to help others.”
A former teacher, Jennifer Green, wrote, “He has always been kind, considerate, and shown impeccable manners. As a former teacher, I feel I have a unique ability to judge the character of young people. Nathan is obviously a fine young man who takes care with those in need. … I would ask that you please give Nathan Jacobson every consideration. He has not yet reached his promise and potential.”
Judge Schroeder sentenced Jacobson to up to five years in prison with credit for time he had already served, and ordered a $750 fine, which she suspended.
Jacobson’s attorney, Nellie O’Mara of Mason City, filed a notice the same day the sentence was issued, notifying the court of Jacobson’s intention to appeal the final judgment and the sentencing.