Jeffrey A. Davis stood dry-eyed at his sentencing hearing Friday as he listened to prosecutor Juan Hoyos read a letter from the mother of his son, Liam. The baby was just 6 weeks old on March 15, 2010, when Davis caused him permanent brain damage.

The letter from Chloe Shablo called Davis, 33, "an inhuman monster" for turning their healthy, happy baby into "a hollow shell of what he's supposed to be."

Davis of St. Paul had nothing to say before Ramsey County District Judge Salvador Rosas sentenced him to 4 years and 9 months in prison. He pleaded guilty Jan. 4 to one felony count of malicious punishment of a child.

Davis was caring for the boy alone on March 15, 2010, while Shablo, his fiancée, worked. At his plea hearing, defense attorney Ryan Garry told the judge that Liam was fussy, screaming and wasn't sleeping much. Davis told the judge that he was frustrated and exhausted when the baby kept screaming and he shook him for "10 or 15 seconds, tops."

That was a lie, Shablo's letter said. In addition to the injuries Davis inflicted by violently shaking the boy, Liam had two broken legs and three broken ribs. His entire body was swollen more than two times its normal size and he couldn't breathe without a ventilator. Davis didn't call 911 until four hours later, Shablo wrote.

Liam, who is more than a year old now, has visual impairment, can't roll over, can't put any weight on his legs, can't hold his own bottle, the letter said. He takes medication three times a day for seizures but still has them, his mother said.

Liam's maternal grandmother and great-grandmother sobbed from the courtroom benches throughout the hearing. Shablo was not in court; media coverage of the case caused her too much stress, Hoyos said.

Garry, Davis' attorney, argued for a lower sentence Friday. Davis had a difficult childhood, he said, and endured abuse from his father and stepmother. Despite that, he "stayed out of the cross hairs of law enforcement for 33 years," Garry said.

Davis never intended to hurt his son that day and has already endured the worst punishment that he can get -- never being able to see his son again, Garry told the judge.

Rosas, however, showed no sympathy for Davis.

"A lot of people had tough childhoods," Rosas said. "That doesn't mean he had to take that out on the child. There seems to be a minimization of his actions here."

Although Davis had been free on bail, the judge ordered him taken into custody immediately to begin serving his sentence.

Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992