GREEN RIVER — Travis Thornock, 21, of Green River, was handed a minimum 8-year sentence in Wyoming State penitentiary after pleading guilty to aggravated child abuse in June.
Thornock’s sentencing took place Friday afternoon in Third District Court. He was arrested last year in connection to an incident involving his then four-month-old son on October 1, 2019.
The hearing began with Thornock’s attorney, Rick Helson, arguing that the county attorney’s office did not properly share discovery items with his office. Helson said he received “a fair amount of discovery” on October 14, 2020, a day before the original sentencing was to take place.
He also said his office received 63 pages of Primary Children’s Hospital medical records from the county attorney’s office on Tuesday of this week. His objection focused on the timeliness of receiving this information it is client’s case.
“The discovery demand was filed in October of last year,” Helson said. “There’s no reason we should have to wait until Tuesday to receive records from December.”
He said the state either choose not to gather the records or choose not to share them with the defense.
Deputy County Attorney Lora Cooper called Helson’s claims “misplaced” and said the defense had enough information to enter a change of plea in June. She referred to the law that states the normal rules of evidence don’t apply to a sentence hearing. Cooper also said the state did not intend to introduce any of that evidence it recently shared with Helson into yesterday’s hearing.
Judge Suzannah Robinson said she did not disagree with Helson’s position that the state should have provided discovery in a more timely manner. However, the state’s decision not to enter any of the evidence into the sentencing was sufficient to move on in the hearing.
Shelley Yost, the infant’s maternal grandmother, told the court she began noticing changes in the infant several days before he was life-flighted to Salt Lake City. She said initially the infant was happy, smiling, and had strong developmental scores.
She said the child began having seizures, vomiting, and seemed increasingly lethargic. Yost added that the child’s head was enlarged, his right eye was tightly crossed, he looked “dull” and “like he was dying.”
She also talked about the extensive brain surgery the child endured, and the relief she felt after the surgery when the infant smiled at her husband and tried to focus his eyes on her.
The child stayed in the hospital for one week after the surgery, then was released to go live with Yost and her husband. She said she had to take classes with a neurosurgeon to learn how to provide aftercare for the infant.
Yost said the infant continues to struggle with balance and “falls all the time.” She said he gets angry very easily, doesn’t see well, and has trouble chewing. The infant is also beginning to suffer seizures again and will have to continue seeing a neurosurgeon for “quite some time,” Yost said.
The county attorney’s office sought a 10-15 year sentence for Thornock. But Robinson reduced that sentence to a minimum of eight years citing Thornock’s actions and attitude following the child’s admittance to Primary Children’s Hospital.
Thornock’s remorse in his final statement to the court, along with his transparency to doctors and law enforcement officials about this history of abusing the child convinced Robinson to lower the minimum sentence.
In addition, he was also ordered to pay more than $22,300 in restitution and court fees. He was remanded to the Wyoming State Penitentiary following the hearing.