A Nebraska man was sent to prison for up to 52 years last week after he pleaded guilty to wrapping a scarf around a toddler’s neck and repeatedly hanging her until she lost consciousness.
David J. Coleman, 38, videotaped the abuse he heaped on his then-girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter last December, the Omaha World-Herald reports.
Coleman, a nine-time felon, pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. He was sentenced to 42 to 52 years, along with another four years for being a felon in possession of a knife.
The two incidents both took place on December 14, and Coleman videoed both of them. The little girl survived the chokings, but Prosecutor Molly Keane said it’s not possible to know what kind of psychological damage the child has suffered.
“It has changed this child’s life in ways we may never know,” Keane said. “How she survived this torture is a mystery. But she did — luckily for her, luckily for her family and luckily for this defendant. Because he would be charged with first-degree murder.”
Court documents say the victim’s mother called police on December 17 after seeing one of the videos while scrolling through her boyfriend’s phone. She said she recognized the background — her Omaha storage unit.
A detective wrote that the video showed Coleman “hanging her two year old daughter with a pink scarf, by her neck, from a shelving unit, causing her to become strangled.”
“The victim hanged by the neck, losing the ability to breathe and losing consciousness,” the affidavit said. “The suspect (then) could be seen grabbing her roughly by the chest and lifting her with the ligature still tied to her neck to release pressure just enough to allow her to breathe, gasp, cry and gurgle, before dropping her in a hanging position, again, only to restart the previous cycle.”
He did that repeatedly, the detective wrote, for five minutes, the World-Herald said.
A search of Coleman’s phone turned up a second video, taped about 30 minutes prior to the other. In it, the 2-year-old was in her car seat, and Coleman “could be seen wrapping the same pink scarf around the victim’s neck multiple times, while she was seated in the car seat,” the affidavit said
“The victim can be seen on video turning red and blue in the face,” the detective wrote. “The victim appeared to try crying but was unable to because the ligature was pulled so tightly by the suspect to stop her from breathing, speaking or crying.”
Coleman, who later blamed methamphetamine for his actions, told the judge last week he was “mortified by these actions.”
“It’s a struggle every day for me,” he said. “I’m very sorry.”
The little girl’s mother wrote a victim impact statement read to the court. It spoke of her sense of betrayal and the anguish she felt.
“There was extreme violence here,” Douglas County District Judge Duane Dougherty said. “When someone harms a child that age — or no matter the age — in that nature, it’s as bad as it gets.”
Coleman must serve 42 years before he is eligible for parole.
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[Featured image: David J. Coleman/Nebraska Sex Offender Registry]