Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Man pleads guilty to slaying of 18-month-old boy

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Shandon Brown was a miracle child, his mother told Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Thomas C. Nurre.

        “He fought to be here,” said Shannon Brown of her 18-month-old son, whose birth was so difficult that he didn't leave the hospital until two months after he was born.

        Shandon was killed April 4, 2000, by Rodney Whipple, who was Ms. Brown's boyfriend at the time.

        Mr. Whipple, 28, of Westwood, had been charged with aggravated murder and could have faced the death penalty.

        But on Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of murder as part of an agreement with prosecutors. After accepting his plea, Judge Nurre sentenced Mr. Whipple to 15 years to life in prison.

        He had been baby-sitting the child and told police that he put the toddler on a bed for several minutes while he used the bathroom. When he returned to the room, Mr. Whipple told police, the child was not breathing.

        Authorities determined Mr. Whipple killed the child after matching teeth marks that were found in the boy's back to Mr. Whipple's dental records.

        An autopsy revealed that the boy was beaten so severely that both his arms were broken and he suffered several internal injuries.

        “His life was worth more than 15 years,” Ms. Brown said.

        Leaning on her mother and fighting to talk through tears, she told the judge the sentence didn't ease her pain.

        “I can't have any more kids. (Mr. Whipple) knew that. (Mr. Whipple) left my son lifeless for my mother to find.”

        Sharon Brown, Shandon's grandmother, said her family agreed to the reduced charge because prosecutors said a jury might have convicted Mr. Whipple of an even lesser charge.


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