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Bloomington man sentenced to 25 years for aggravated battery of a child

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Lance Cotton

Cotton

BLOOMINGTON — A Bloomington man who was convicted of causing severe injuries to a toddler was sentenced Tuesday afternoon to 25 years in prison.

Lance Cotton, 30, was found guilty in September to the Class X felony offense of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm in a bench trial before Judge Casey Costigan.

Assistant State's Attorney Mary Koll recommended Costigan sentence Cotton to 30 years in the Department of Corrections, the maximum he could be sentenced.

She said he knowingly caused great bodily harm to the victim, then a 21-month-old boy, including a fracture to the right clavicle, 11 rib fractures, two broken arms, bruising on the head and face, malnutrition and brain bleeding and damage.

Court documents claim that the victim was left in a malnourished state and suffering from injuries "due to child abuse over time."

Koll said that Cotton's criminal behavior was unique in its increased intensity, describing the incident as a "sharp and nearly lethal escalation."

Defense attorney Brian McEldowney asked the judge to issue a 10-year sentence.

Reading from a prepared statement, the victim's grandmother said, "I hope one day God allows me to forgive you, but I really don't see it. And if that keeps me from getting to heaven, then I just might not make it."

She said the boy, now 4 years old, will likely lose sight in his right eye because of nerve damage and he will have severe medical issues throughout his life.

A glass of wine, a beer, a cocktail — it's so commonplace, you don't think twice about it. But how much alcohol is too much?

In closing, she told Cotton, "You deserve to be exactly what you are, an inmate. Not a father, not a brother, not an uncle, nothing — just an inmate."

The audience in the courtroom became agitated when Cotton was given an opportunity to speak.

Cotton said the victim's mother, who is facing a pending misdemeanor charge for endangering the health and life of a child, was culpable in the boy's injuries and that he "never put my hands" on the victim. 

Prior to the sentencing, McEldowney submitted a motion to change the verdict to an acquittal or to retry the case based on what he described as prejudicial evidence. He argued Cotton's prior conviction of aggravated domestic battery causing great bodily harm in 2016 was prejudicial and should not have been admitted during the trial. Costigan denied the motion.

Cotton must serve 85% of his sentence, 21 years 3 months, before becoming eligible for parole.

Contact D. Jack Alkire at (309)820-3275. 

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