Man loses appeal in child abuse case

Newman claimed sentence was ‘unduly harsh’

A Cambria County man who punished the 4-year-old daughter of a former girlfriend by tying her hands and securing her in a garbage bag for soiling herself, has lost an appeal of his lengthy prison sentence, which he claimed was “unduly harsh.”

Kristopher Newman, 38, of Johnstown complained to the Pennsylvania Superior Court that a Cambria County judge’s sentence of 42 to 144 months in a state correctional institution for his physical and mental abuse of the child was unnecessary.

He told Cambria Judge Norman A. Krumenacker III during a sentencing hearing last year that he had already been punished by losing his job, his friends and his relationships, and by being harassed on social media and assaulted by the child’s natural father.

Newman entered no-contest pleas to charges of aggravated assault, a second-degree felony, simple assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

The judge, in sentencing Newman, imposed a 30- to 84-month sentence on the aggravated assault charge, which was above the aggravated range recommended by the state sentencing guidelines.

Krumenacker also imposed additional sentences within the standard range of the guidelines for simple assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

The Superior Court refused Newman’s request to vacate his sentence, pointing out that just because a sentence was above recommended guidelines, it was not a legally-appropriate argument to overturn the sentence.

A three-judge panel of the Superior Court last Friday ruled Newman, through his appeals attorney, John D. Messina of Ebensburg, did not show any reason why his sentence for aggravated assault was unreasonable.

“Newman’s claim that his sentence for aggravated assault is unduly harsh simply because it falls outside the guidelines does not present a colorable argument that his sentence was inconsistent with specific provisions of the sentencing code, or contrary to fundamental sentencing norms,” the Superior Court opinion stated.

The Superior Court opinion was written by Judge Maria McLaughlin.

The panel, which included judges Judith F. Olson and Victor P. Stabile, concluded that Krumenacker’s sentence was not unreasonable.

The young girl was not only placed in a garbage bag, but, according to the opinion, she suffered injuries to her head, face and body, including swelling of the liver due to a blow to her abdomen.

Her birth father, with whom she now lives, reported to the court she awakens terrified at night.

She used to be a child who was “very affectionate and carefree,” but now “trembles” at hearing Newman’s name, according to the father.

Newman acknowledged during sentencing that he has a problem controlling his temper.

The Cambria judge stated he imposed the long prison sentence on Newman because:

— Newman had violated his position of care or trust with respect to the youngster.

— The offenses against the child were “more onerous and significant than a usual type of child abuse case that we would see.”

— The punishment inflicted by Newman represented “extreme cruelty on the victim.”

— A lesser sentence “would depreciate the seriousness of the crime.”

— Newman was a danger to society.

The appeals court concluded the overall sentence of 42 to 144 months was not excessive and did not constitute an abuse of discretion by the judge.

Newman is presently housed in the State Correctional Institution Somerset.