ANDALUSIA, AL - An Andalusia man has pleaded guilty to attempted murder charges after trying to stop his two month old daughter's crying by strangling her. Robert Allen Seaney, 22, pleaded guilty Monday to the July, 2008 crime and will be sentenced at a later date by Circuit Court Judge Ashley McKathan.
District Attorney Greg Gambril, who prosecuted the case for the State, said that he will seek the maximum sentence of life imprisonment for Seaney. "This is a horrible crime on all levels. If this baby had died, Mr. Seaney would have been facing a capital murder charge. Instead, he failed in his attempt and can only be charged with a Class A felony. There is no excuse for this man's conduct."
According to District Attorney Gambril, Seaney was charged after rescue workers were called to the defendant's home where they were told that the baby had stopped breathing, but had been resuscitated. "Paramedics, law enforcement, and medical personnel at Andalusia Regional Hospital all observed signs that the baby had been strangled," Gambril said. "Hospital personnel also tentatively diagnosed the baby with signs of shaken baby syndrome, being a brain bleed on the infant's frontal lobe." The infant was taken by helicopter to Sacred Heart Hospital where she was treated over a period of eight days before being released.
"Mr. Seaney was questioned the morning after the incident by Sheriff's Department Investigators Teddie Rae Motley and Wesley Snodgrass. Over the course of two interviews, Mr. Seaney admitted to strangling the baby with his hands, to wrapping an electrical cord around her neck and choking her, and to shaking the baby violently. He confessed that the baby actually stopped breathing at one point and that he resuscitated her," Gambril said. "Mr. Seaney said that he did all these things to try and stop her from crying."
District Attorney Gambril explained that Mr. Seaney entered into a "blind plea" arrangement. "This is where the State and the defense agree to what charge the defendant will enter a guilty plea to, but not what the sentence will be. Instead, the defendant is sentenced by the Court. To put it a different way, it's as if we took the case to trial and Mr. Seaney was found guilty of Attempted Murder, which would present the same scenario where sentencing is left up to the judge."
"In this blind plea arrangement, the only concession that the State made is that we agreed to dismiss a charge of Domestic Violence in the First Degree," Gambril explained. "Though he could have been convicted of this offense at trial, Mr. Seaney could not have been given any extra time for it as the charge arose out of the same conduct as the attempted murder charge did: trying to kill the child. In essence, we gave up an additional felony, but no additional time."
Attempted Murder is a Class A felony that carries a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. A sentencing date has not yet been set, but is expected to be in August or September. Seaney is currently being held in custody.