JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A letter of apology Jeannine Campbell read to the family of the boy she was seen abusing on a nannycam did not sway a judge from sentencing the 53-year-old woman to eight years in prison and seven additional years of probation.
Jeannine Campbell reads letter of apology to the family during Friday's sentencing hearing.
"You have admitted in open court to abusing the most vulnerable and defenseless among us," Judge Adrian Soud said Friday afternoon in announcing the sentence. "The law rightly rushes to the defense of those so helpless."
Last month, Campbell pleaded guilty to three counts of child abuse that resulted from abuse seen on hidden-camera video, showing Campbell repeatedly hitting the baby.
"My heart is screaming every day. I'm so very sorry. I had never behaved so horribly," Campbell read through tears on the witness stand. "It's hard to cope with what I did. I can't believe that someone could do it, and, my God, it was me."
Under questioning by prosecutors, she admitted that she was mad at the family, but said that is no excuse for her actions -- none of which she said she remembered until she was shown the videotape.
That statement was contradicted when the state played a recording of a telephone call Campbell made to her husband from jail in which she admitted throwing and hitting the young boy.
"I don't have to look at the tape, I know what I did. It is abuse," Campbell is heard saying. "It is definitely, most definitely abuse. I am guilty."
Campbell testified Friday that she was dealing with a lot of problems in her personal life and at home.
Amanda Hammock, the mother of the abused baby, then took the stand and said that while she once considered Campbell a friend, she now knows she knows how badly her trust was betrayed.
"She picked up him by his arms and threw him. You hit him in the head and knocked him over. You kicked him in the stomach and you hit in the head with the ball, just to name a few of the malicious and horrific things that you did to my sweet and defenseless baby boy," Hammock said. "It is truly only by the grace of God that my son came out of this attack with nothing more than a split lip and bruises."
Hammock called Campbell's reasons for hitting her son "sorry excuses," then asked Judge Soud to sentence Hammock to the maximum term -- 15 years in prison.
"My husband and I trusted you with the two most precious parts of our hearts," Hammock said from the witness stand but address to Campbell. "Not only did you betray that trust, you betrayed the trust of our children. We now have trouble trusting anyone but the closest family members to watch our children."
After a 90-minute recess, Soud announced the sentence: five years in prison on one count, three years on a second with two years probation and five years of probation on a third.
"In understanding the reality that courts do not impose sentences to extract some measure of revenge, courts do, however impose sentence to bring about consequence when the vulnerable among us are assaulted," Soud said. "I, along with probably every other person in this courtroom, am grateful for the reality that there is not appreciable, lasting injury to Ethan. That is attributable to the guiding hand of grace. It does not, in itself, mitigate your behavior."
Soud acknowledged the family's request for the full 15-years in prison, but said that given Campbell's age, that would be tantamount to a life sentence.
Both Campbell's husband and her lawyer believe she has a hormonal imbalance that contributed to her behavior.
John Campbell admits he watched the nannycam video, but said that while the woman in the video was physically his wife, she was not acting like the woman he knows.
“You spend 30 years with somebody and you know every motion, every mannerism of them, and they weren’t there. It was like someone else had taken over," John Campbell said.
According to the police report, Campbell worked for the boy’s family for two years, but after an older child had an unexplained black eye, the parents installed the hidden camera to see what was going on when they weren’t home.
The boy's parents said their youngest son has fully recovered from the abuse.