CINCINNATI (Rich Jaffe) - A man who's responsible for the violent death of an 18-month-old baby will try once again to get out of prison.
Paul Schaffner inflicted horrible injuries on tiny Brittney Billette in October 1993 and he's been in prison since he was indicted and convicted. Brittney's father hopes that people will help see to it that the killer of his baby serves every possible day of his sentence.
On Saturday, Oct. 16,1993, Mark Billette's phone in Saginaw, Michigan rang with a strange request from his baby's mother in Cincinnati. She wanted him to pick up the baby for a visit. Four hours later, his mom called saying she had gotten a frantic phone call from the baby's mother, known as "D".
From his home in Saginaw, Mark told Local 12 News via Skype, "So I called D, she was crying so hard on the phone I couldn't even understand her. A doctor got on said that my daughter was in the hospital, she's unconscious. Well are you saying my daughter could die? He said, 'Yes your daughter could die. I suggest you come down here ASAP.'"
The baby was initially taken to the old St. Francis/St. George Hospital. From there she was moved to Children's. When Mark arrived, tiny Brittney was on life support.
He immediately noticed large bruises on her, "So I lifted up my daughter completely and I couldn't believe she had bruises, she had three or four big burn welts on her back and going down on her butt."
Paul Schaffner, D's boyfriend, claimed he had been giving the baby a bath at their Westside apartment when he walked away for a towel. The baby allegedly fell and hit her head. But doctors at Children's hospital and detectives quickly came up with a different explanation. Her medical report said her, "Head injuries were equivalent to falling from a second story window." Schaffner also claimed a vacuum cleaner had fallen on her. The doctor's report said, "The medical evidence in this matter shows that Schaffner severely beat Brittney to death."
The day after the child was admitted to the hospital, she was taken off life support.
"So 8 a.m. came around I held my daughter in my arms as they turned the machine off," said her father.
In April 1994, through a plea agreement, Schaffner was convicted on just one count of involuntary manslaughter with a sentence of 10 to 25 years. The Hamilton County prosecutor's office said Schaffner's still lying about the circumstances and prosecutors have told parole authorities previously, "Schaffner is either grossly confused about what he did or about what it means to tell the truth."
Schaffner has a parole hearing Thursday, Feb. 25, in Columbus. Mark Billette will be there and is also hoping an online petition found at blockparole.com will send a message to the board that Schaffner should serve the remaining few years of his sentence.
Billette said, "In the courtroom he admitted he beat my daughter. He admitted the beating caused the death. But he also added he didn't intend to kill her. My daughter had a cracked skull, broken ribs, her spine was damaged, she had multi bruises, welts; what did he think his intent was?"
Probably a question that will never have an answer.
During Schaffner's time in prison the maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter was reduced to just 15 years. Billette told Local 12 News that the week before Brittney died, her mother took pictures of the welts or burns on her body but she was never charged in her daughters death.
CLICK HERE if you'd like to take a look at the petition.