Father sentenced to life in prison for infant's death
It was last July, she said. For about 15 minutes. The baby smiled and cooed. Smith took pictures. Millie stole Smith's heart.
"I fell in love with her," Smith said.
Friday, Smith brought one of the photos, mounted in a wood frame, to Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Wagner's courtroom on the third floor of the Safety Building.
She sat in the crowded gallery with friends and family until it was her turn, and when it came, a bailiff unlocked a windowed door to the main courtroom and Smith went in.
She placed the photograph on a table and sat in a chair behind it. She was wearing a tiny cross around her neck.
Millie's father, Littleton Jackson, sat in chains at a table just in front of his daughter's photograph.
He didn't turn to look.
Smith noted that the most severe punishment allowed by Wisconsin law was life in prison without a chance of parole.
"That," Smith said, "is the least he deserves."
Millie was 11 months old when she was beaten to death in September. A jury convicted Jackson of first-degree intentional homicide in March.
Millie, according to police and medical reports, was bitten on her face and neck; her nose and mouth were bruised; the space between her skull and brain was swollen with blood; her lungs were bruised; her ribs were fractured; her body was covered with flesh wounds; she was bleeding from her rectum.
Millie suffered those injuries, police said, while in Jackson's care. Millie's mother, Sharona Smith, had gone to a relative's house for formula and baby food.
When she returned a few hours later, Millie was naked, lying on the living room floor.
According to police, Jackson told her: "I think she's going to die. She can't breathe. I think I'm going to jail for the rest of my life."
When the mother asked Jackson what happened, he replied: "Nothing happened."
Jackson later told police he had been drinking and had slapped the child several times and bit her because she was crying.
On Friday, Jackson told Wagner that an intruder killed Millie.
"I maintain my innocence," he said. "I never murdered my daughter."
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Shomin told Wagner that Jackson's story was no more than his inability to take responsibility for killing his daughter.
"There is no sense of remorse," Shomin said.
Wagner sentenced Jackson, 29, to life without parole.
As Smith left the courtroom, she called to Jackson and, holding up Millie's picture, dared him to look at the daughter he claimed to love.
Jackson slumped in his chair, head bowed. He didn't look up.