WOODSTOCK – Outside the courtroom, James Greve said he wished his daughter’s former caregiver had been given the same sentence the baby had.
Alvin D. Santiago, 30, on Thursday was sentenced to nine years in prison for shaking Tegan Greve so violently that she required brain surgery. The child was 2 months old at the time.
With day-for-day credit, Santiago will serve about four and a half years behind bars.
But for baby Tegan, it will be at least five more years of doctors visits, medical tests and medication. Even then, James Greve said, whether she will fully recover remains unknown.
“He got a lesser sentence than my daughter,” James Greve said after an emotional sentencing hearing that included statements from he and wife, Rachel Greve, and tearful testimony from Santiago and his family members.
Santiago was caring for Tegan Greve in August 2012, along with four other infants, including his own. Santiago later told police that Tegan was particularly fussy that day. In a moment of frustration, he snapped, held the baby in outstretched arms and shook her, prosecutors have said.
The injuries Tegan Greve sustained were discovered that September when she was rushed to the hospital for emergency brain surgery to cure bleeding in her brain. She also required surgery on hemorrhaging retinas.
Just after the August incident, doctors told James and Rachel Greve the cause of Tegan’s vomiting likely had been acid reflux. But on Sept. 17, 2012, again in the care of Santiago, the baby stopped breathing and was taken to the hospital.
“The little girl that stole my heart was clinging to life by a thread,” James Greve said.
Cary police and DCFS initially investigated the couple on suspicion harming their child and placed Tegan in the custody of other family members. For two months, the Greves had only hour-long visits with Tegan as she recovered.
“I felt like I was being stripped of being a parent,” Rachel Greve said.
Santiago eventually confessed to police and later pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated battery of a child. Under a sentencing agreement with prosecutors, Santiago’s sentence was capped at between eight and 15 years.
In punishing the Cary man, McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather acknowledged that Santiago had no criminal history. His family pointed to Santiago’s previous work as a teacher, and that prior to the incident, he had “an amazing way with children.” They noted his volunteer work with his church and cited visits with an elderly neighbor.
In a statement to the court, Santiago expressed remorse and deep regret, and said he was ready to accept the court’s sentence.
“It took me forever to accept the truth that I was capable of hurting a child and lying about it,” he said. “I do not want that to be the only truth about me.”
A restitution hearing is scheduled for March for the Greves’ out-of-pocket medical expenses.