Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 8, 2013

Appeal denied for man charged in child death

James Rice’s 50-year prison sentence affirmed.

By Mike Fletcher
Tribune crime reporter

— The Indiana Court of Appeals denied an appeal Thursday by James Rice, who was sentenced in Tipton Circuit Court to 50 years last year in the 2010 death of 4-year-old Dylan Cast.

In his appeal, Rice claimed the court abused its discretion by failing to consider several mitigating factors and that his sentence was inappropriate in light of the nature of his offense and character.

After reviewing the appeal, the appellate court denied his request and affirmed the sentence.

Dylan Cast died on Nov. 26, 2010, of blunt force trauma suffered at the Hobbs home he shared with his mother, Rice and Rice’s son.

Rice said he was upset with Dylan because of a potty-training accident and spanked the boy one time on the buttocks, according to court records.

Rice waited almost an hour before calling 911, according to Tipton County Prosecutor Jay Rich.

During sentencing, Dr. Tara Harris, a child abuse pediatrician, testified that “she has never seen a child with a spinal injury this severe.”

She further testified that a tremendous amount of force would have been required to cause the injury and that it could not have been caused by a spanking as Rice contended.

In sentencing Rice, Judge Thomas Lett stated, “I think you’ve minimized your actions in this situation. [Dylan] didn’t die from being spanked. He died from being beaten, beaten by you. ... I really feel, and maybe this will come with time, that until you fully admit what you did that your remorse is hollow to me. To be fully remorseful, you must totally admit what you did to this helpless child, and as I said, I don’t believe you’ve done that. I don’t.”

In June, Rice entered into an agreement in which he pleaded guilty to a Class A felony charge of battery causing death. In return, the state dismissed two charges, a Class A felony charge of neglect and a Class C felony of reckless homicide.

As part of the plea, sentencing was left up to the discretion of Lett.

Lett heard testimony from Rice and Tipton County Prosecutor Jay Rich before handing down the 50-year term Aug. 1, 2012.

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