OAKLAND (CBS SF) — An Oakland man was sentenced Tuesday to 11 years in state prison for the suffocation death of his 4-month-old son.
William Thunderhawk, 28, was charged with murder and felony child abuse causing death for the death of his infant son, Wambli Thunderhawk, on Dec. 5, 2010.
If he had been convicted of those charges he would have faced a sentence of 25 years to life.
But on Feb. 21 he pleaded no contest to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter in a plea agreement with prosecutors.
William Thunderhawk initially was held on suspicion of child abuse after his son was hospitalized with suspicious injuries on Nov. 28, 2010. But the charges against him were upgraded after Wambli died from his injuries on Dec. 5, 2010, and an autopsy determined that the boy had injuries consistent with suffocation and also revealed that he had three fractured ribs.
Wambli was taken to Children’s Hospital Oakland on Nov. 28, 2010, from the family’s apartment in the 1600 block of Sixth Avenue in Oakland, where he lived with his father, his mother, Marjorie Castaneda, 31, and a brother who was five years old at the time.
The next day, Oakland police began investigating the possibility that Wambli was the victim of child abuse.
Thunderhawk’s attorney, Eric Mirzaian, said Tuesday that, “Everything about his post-incident conduct proves that he had no intent to harm his child.”
Mirzaian said Thunderhawk “made frantic attempts to resuscitate his child and called 911” to report that his son was injured.
He said Thunderhawk “has been through hell and back because he lost his child and is physically separated from his family.”
Mirzaian said Thunderhawk’s wife didn’t want authorities to prosecute him because the death of their son “is not something he intended to happen.”
Thunderhawk “didn’t intend to harm his child and feels deep and genuine remorse” about Wambli’s death, Mirzaian said.
He said, “This has been a very difficult and challenging case and the plea agreement was the result of extensive negotiations with the District Attorney’s Office.”
Prosecutors weren’t available for comment on the case Tuesday.
Mirzaian said Thunderhawk’s sentencing “is the end of a very long road and he his family can now move forward with their lives.”
Thunderhawk has already been in custody for 15 months and will be eligible for parole in about eight years.
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