Anchorage man sentenced to 10 years in toddler's death

Posted: Wednesday, August 14, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An Anchorage man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading no contest in the beating death of a 2-year-old boy.

Kerry Holcomb declined to speak on his own behalf at his sentencing Tuesday in state Superior Court in Anchorage.

Holcomb was originally indicted on a charge of second-degree murder in the June 2000 death of Joey Wolfe. He pleaded no contest in April to a charge of manslaughter.

Judge Larry Card sentenced Holcomb to 15 years, then suspended five years of the sentence.

Card also put Holcomb on probation for 10 years after he is released.

Holcomb, 22, was baby-sitting Joey, his girlfriend's son, when the boy said from bed that he needed to go to the bathroom, according to prosecutor Adrienne Bachman. Holcomb then beat Joey nearly to death, Bachman said. The child died the next day.

Doctors found seven separate injuries to the boy's head, Bachman told the judge.

Defense attorney Rex Butler said his client had no history of assaultive behavior. The attack on the child was impulsive, not planned, Butler said, noting that Holcomb was a youthful, first-felony offender.

But Bachman said Holcomb is a dangerous enigma, a more complicated person than he appears to be.

''Something is going on in Kerry Holcomb's head that makes him different from the person (his friends) know him to be,'' she said.

Holcomb's only previous brush with the law was a misdemeanor conviction for exposing himself -- naked except for socks -- and shouting obscenities to women walking along an Eagle River bike path, many of them pushing baby carriages, Bachman said.

''Something strange is going on in his head,'' Bachman said.

Butler appeared to agree. ''He wants to be fixed,'' Butler said.

No real treatment for mental illness takes place in prison. The best approach is minimum jail time followed by treatment while he is on probation with a lot of suspended time hanging over him to make sure he complies, Butler said.

But Card called the killing a shocking crime against a child who couldn't defend himself and imposed three years more than the minimum seven years that Butler asked for.

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