Jason Robert Betlach, a 32-year-old Jordan man, was sentenced in Scott County District Court Tuesday to 20 years in prison. He pleaded guilty in February to murdering his 18-month old foster child on Aug. 26, 2018.
Betlach's sentence is the maximum penalty allowed for his second-degree murder charge — with an upward departure from sentencing guidelines. Judge Rex Stacey said during the sentencing he wished Betlach had withdrawn his guilty plea so that he could have sentenced him to life imprisonment.
"You're barely human, sir," Stacey said.
Betlach was arrested in November 2018 after the autopsy of the child indicated the cause of death was extensive brain damage due to "blunt force head and neck injury."
Betlach admitted in court Feb. 7 to shaking the crying child until they were unresponsive. Betlach also admitted to being in a position of authority and that the victim was in a position of vulnerability due to age — admissions that were taken into consideration as aggravating factors.
Before delivering the sentence, Stacey cited incidents of child abuse and racism included in the pre-trial investigation findings — including instances of Betlach writing "loser" on the child with a marker and a video of Beltach yelling "white power" at the child, who was black and Native American.
Betlach's attorney Eric Hawkins of Hawkins Law Office told the court Tuesday that he is "a good person who did a very bad act."
"This wasn't a mistake, Mr. Betlach," Stacey said. "This was murder of a baby."
Three of the victim's family members emotionally addressed the court via telephone during the Tuesday sentencing, which was held in the Scott County Law Enforcement Center. Betlach also spoke at the sentencing, but his words were barely audible over the gallery's PA system.
In addition to serving 20 years, Betlach could be fined $1,000 and serve the remaining 120 months of his 360-month sentence in prison for misbehavior or a parole violation. His 519 days in Scott County Jail will count toward his sentence.