DECATUR, Ga. — A DeKalb County father is blaming the Bible after he killed his five-month-old son
Benjamin Edetanlen was sentenced to 18 years in prison Wednesday.
Edetanlen said Proverbs: 13 taught him "Spare the rod. Spoil the child." But prosecutors said he went too far and his discipline ended his 5-month-old child's life.
Right after the judge sentenced Edetanlen he walked by Channel 2's camera and smiled.
Prosecutors said what happened in his home in 2004 was no laughing matter.
DeKalb County assistant DA Dalia Racine said Edetanlen beat his 5-month-old, his 2-year-old daughter and another 1-year-old son, using the Bible to justify it.
"The defendant stated that he disciplined the children according to the book of Proverbs in the bible," Racine argued in court.
Prosecutors said the baby died from blunt force trauma. He had brain injuries and a broken leg.
Edetanlen's attorney said he loves his children and was trying to discipline them according to scripture.
"Mr. Edetanlen firmly believed in the adage you know spare the rod and spoil the child," defense attorney Ingrid McGaughey said.
Edetanlen faced murder charges. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter and several counts of child cruelty.
"We are asking for 18 years to serve," Racine said, and the judge agreed.
McGaughey said he never meant to hurt his children, but was only trying to keep them in line according to the bible.
"He's actually pointed to several passages in Proverbs which support his belief," McGaughey said.
Edetanlen was ordered to stay away from his two other children once he gets out.
His wife also faces contributing to the delinquency of a minor charges because the indictment alleges she did nothing to stop the abuse.