Many tears were shed in court on Wednesday as an Anoka mother plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the death of her 3-year-old son.
The prosecuting attorney told FOX 9 News the case was the worst she'd ever been on -- and even the judge teared up during sentencing at Elizabeth Moorman's tearful apology.
"Between my staff attorney and I, we've never seen a woman so desperate to rewind time and go back and make different choices -- go back to a moment where she could've made a difference and had a different outcome," said Elise Chambers.
Moorman, 41, told the court she was sorry to everyone involved, adding that her addiction to pills clouded her judgment.
The charges stem from September 2011 after Moorman left her son, Devin, with her boyfriend, Tony Urban. Urban told police he was brushing the boy's teeth when Devin bit him, and Urban admitted to hitting the boy, who also hit his head on the floor. Devin later died of head injuries.
Urban pled guilty to second-degree murder and is currently serving his 15-year sentence.
"Both Mr. Urban and Ms. Moorman had a role in the unnecessary death of this child, and we felt charges against both parties were required," stated Tony Palumbo, Anoka County Attorney.
Moorman was charged with second-degree manslaughter and child neglect for failing to call police after learning of the injuries -- and for failing to find a suitable babysitter.
Some have said the 4-year sentence is not enough for the death of a 3-year-old, but Palumbo explained those are what state guidelines allow.
Doug Smeltz, Devin's father, told FOX 9 News watching the mother of his child be sentenced was one of the toughest of his life.
"I was just thinking about my son. My thoughts were always with him," Smeltz said, remembering the boy who he says, "smiled constantly."
Smeltz's impact statement was read aloud in court, and in it he apologized that he was not there to defend his son.
Now, Smeltz is working with domestic abuse programs, and said he plans to devote the rest of his life to giving back.
"That's my way of making sure this tragedy is somehow turned into something beneficial for everyone," he explained.
Smeltz said he even looks forward to speaking with Moorman and sharing stories about their son.
"I'm sure she feels more guilt than anybody," he said. "I think she will work hard in the future, and hopefully, when she gets out of jail, she will give back to the community as well."
In court, Judge Sharon Hall said she wished she had some profound words of wisdom for those affected, but she left by saying that as adults, we all have an obligation to speak up and protect children who can't protect themselves.