Sentencing hearing held for mother who killed baby

24-year-old admitted to shaking 3-month-old boy, hitting his head on crib

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A sentencing hearing was held Thursday for a 24-year-old woman who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of her nearly 3-month-old son in September.

Jacksonville police said Stephanie Schoonover shook the baby and hit his head on a crib at their Oceanway home. The boy died two days later from blunt-force trauma.

Police said Schoonover confessed to shaking the boy and hitting the boy's head on the crib out of frustration, and the medical examiner said the boy's injury was consistent with that.

Schoonover and her family in the courtroom cried as prosecutors talked about Logan never getting to take his first steps. Her attorney asked the judge to be lenient on the sentencing, giving many reasons, including saying her client has a low IQ and didn't realize what she was doing.

But the prosecution rebutted that, saying she lied for months about what really happened, and that if she's smart enough to try to cover up her baby's death, she was smart enough to know what she was doing at the time of his death.

"She killed an innocent 3-month-old who relied on her for everything in this world," a prosecutor said.

Schoonover's attorney said she was young, stressed and needed help. The attorney said Schoonover's boyfriend at the time, Logan's father, was more than twice her age and would leave his three grandchildren with Schoonover while he was out drinking.

"She asked him, 'Come home, help me,' to which he responded, 'No,' and he continued to drink and party," the defense attorney said. "So that added to her mental state on the night that this incident occurred."

Schoonover's attorney said the offense was isolated and that she showed remorse, but the prosecutor said there was another incident when the Department of Children and Families investigated a skull fracture to Logan when he was 1 month old.

"I would argue this is not an isolated incident; this is an escalating pattern of criminal conduct from this defendant," the prosecutor said. "She's trying to take out her frustrations on baby Logan at 1 months old and 3 months old."

Schoonover's grandmother, Betty Pope, has been at every court hearing so far and said their family is devastated Logan is gone, but that was never meant to happen, and she hopes her granddaughter is given a second chance.

"I know she's done something horrible, and we love that baby, but we love her, too," Pope said. "I hope she doesn't get the rest of her life in prison. She doesn't deserve that."

Pope said Schoonover also has a 3-year-old child, who is now staying with her.

The judge said he needs more time before he sentences Schoonover, and the attorneys will meet back with him on July 14.

The state is asking for 45 years in prison.

Copyright 2014 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.