Submitted on Briefs: October 18, 2017
FROM: District Court of the Thirteenth Judicial District, In
and For the County of Yellowstone, Cause No. DC 14-149
Honorable Mary Jane Knisely, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Chad Wright, Chief Appellate Defender, Haley
Connell Jackson, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena,
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Michael
S. Wellenstein, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana
Scott Twito, Yellowstone County Attorney, Brent Linneweber,
Deputy County Attorney, Billings, Montana.
Defendant Stephen Santillan (Santillan) appeals from a
judgment of the Thirteenth Judicial District Court,
Yellowstone County, sentencing him to 40 years incarceration,
with 10 years suspended, and requiring him to pay $3, 568,
861.69 in restitution.
We affirm and address the following issues:
Did the District Court err in admitting testimony that Child
Protective Services removed children from Santillan's
Did the District Court err by ordering Santillan pay
restitution for the victim's future psychiatric
treatment, counseling, family and marriage counseling, group
home care, and case management expenses?
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
A.C. was tragically injured in July 2013 while in
Santillan's care. She is the daughter of Danielle,
Santillan's girlfriend, and Mitch and was born in August
2010. Danielle and Mitch shared parenting time pursuant to an
informal agreement; Danielle parented A.C. from Sunday
evening until Thursday evening, while Mitch parented A.C.
from Thursday evening until Sunday evening. Before July 2013,
A.C. exhibited some communication and language delays-she
could not carry on a conversation and knew about five words.
She was involved in a program called Early Childhood
Intervention to help her communicate and learn language.
Danielle and Santillan had a son, J.S., in August 2011. On
June 13, 2013, Santillan moved into Danielle's apartment,
where Danielle, A.C., and J.S. lived. At that time, A.C. was
almost three years old and J.S. was almost two years old.
Danielle worked varying hours during the day. Santillan
worked the night shift from approximately 10:30 p.m. until
3:00 a.m. Before Santillan moved in, A.C. and J.S. went to
daycare while Danielle worked. The children stopped going to
daycare in June 2013 due to the expense and because Santillan
and Danielle's work schedules allowed one of them to care
for the children while the other worked. Thus, Santillan
cared for A.C. and J.S. while Danielle worked during the day.
On Sunday, July 7, 2013, Mitch dropped A.C. off at
Danielle's apartment pursuant to their informal parenting
arrangement. A.C. was healthy at that time. Danielle did not
work on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, so she watched A.C. and
J.S. while Santillan slept most of the day. A.C. acted normal
that day and there were no indications that she was hurt.
Santillan woke up in time to eat dinner with Danielle and the
children, then he got ready for and went to work. Santillan
got off work at 2:52 a.m. on Thursday, July 11, 2013.
Danielle, A.C., and J.S. were sleeping when he got home.
Santillan took a shower, got ready for bed, and fell asleep.
Danielle had an appointment at 8:30 a.m. on July 11, 2013, so
she and A.C. woke up around 7:30 a.m. that morning. Danielle
got ready for her appointment and A.C. woke Santillan up
before Danielle left. Danielle was gone for about an hour,
and A.C. was acting normal before Danielle left and when she
returned home. Danielle watched cartoons with A.C. when she
got home and then left for work around 10:30 a.m. Santillan
was the only person with A.C. and J.S. after Danielle left
About three hours later, at 1:19 p.m., Santillan called
Danielle at work. He told her that A.C. was shaking and cold
and that she should probably come home. Danielle asked
Santillan what happened, and Santillan said J.S. threw a
plastic toy car at the back of A.C.'s head, after which
she started acting strangely. Danielle left work and went
home. A.C. was laying down, not moving, had vomited, and
looked lethargic and pale-Danielle had never seen A.C. look
that way before. Danielle called a nursing hotline and was
told to call 9-1-1 for an ambulance, but Danielle decided it
was faster to take A.C. to the hospital herself. Santillan
suggested that A.C. looked tired and needed a nap, but
Danielle disagreed and prepared A.C. for the trip to the
hospital. Danielle drove A.C., along with Santillan and J.S.,
to the emergency room.
At the hospital, an emergency room nurse performed A.C.'s
initial assessment. When the nurse walked into the exam room
she observed A.C. laying on a gurney, cradling the side rail,
facing away from her family, and not interacting with anyone.
That behavior struck the nurse as unusual because children
are usually afraid at the hospital and cling to their
parents. A.C.'s eyes were closed-she was drowsy, subdued,
limp, and would cry or whimper when touched or moved. The
nurse observed that A.C. had a bump on the back of her head
and some other bruises. The nurse was told that A.C.'s
younger brother hit her in the back of the head with a toy
car, and after that happened her extremities felt cool, she
began acting strangely, and she vomited.
After performing the initial assessment, the nurse left the
exam room and told Dr. John Kominsky (Dr. Kominsky) about
A.C.'s injuries and behavior. Dr. Kominsky immediately
assessed A.C., noted her altered level of consciousness, and
ordered a CAT scan and a full-body skeletal x-ray. The CAT
scan revealed a linear occipital skull fracture on the back
of A.C.'s head and a contrecoup injury in the front left
portion of her brain. A contrecoup injury is an injury that
occurs on the opposite side of the brain from where an impact
occurred. An impact to one side of the head causes the brain
to move inside the skull, and when the head stops moving the
brain hits the opposite side of the skull from the impact
area, resulting in injury and bleeding. Dr. Kominsky
activated trauma protocol; consulted with a pediatric
intensivist; and ordered an IV, fluids, labs, and medication.
The doctor then arranged to transport A.C. to a
children's hospital in Denver where a pediatric
neurosurgeon could treat her. While she waited for transport,
A.C. remained lethargic and sleepy-hospital staff monitored
her and gave her medication to control her vomiting.
Dr. Kominsky diagnosed A.C. with a skull fracture, brain
hemorrhage, and child abuse. The child abuse diagnosis was
due, in part, to Dr. Kominsky's concern that A.C.'s
serious head injury was not consistent with the provided
explanation of her younger brother throwing a toy car at the
back of her head. The hospital contacted the police and Child
Protective Services (CPS) based on the diagnoses and the
staff's observations. Police arrived at the hospital,
assessed A.C., and spoke with Danielle and Santillan. A CPS
worker, Kathy Rogers (Rogers), also arrived at the hospital
in response to the hospital's alert. Rogers observed A.C.
and spoke with hospital staff, the responding police
officers, Mitch, Danielle, and Santillan. Santillan told
Rogers that ...