A man who broke his newborn twin daughters’ legs now will spend the next 16-20 years in prison.
Anthony Long was sentenced Friday in Fremont County District Court, to between eight and 10 years each for two counts of felony child abuse.
Each count allows for a maximum 10-year penalty under the law.
“I’m not calling Mr. Long a monster,” said Judge Jason Conder. “But these were monstrous acts.”
The girls were about 24 days old when hospital personnel in Riverton discovered that they had broken bones and bruising.
One twin had a broken femur, injuries to her nostril, a bruised cheek and injured earlobes. The other twin had a broken arm, a fractured femur, a fractured rib, a swollen eye, and other circular bruising on her body, according to Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun.
Conder said he didn’t believe Long schemed to injure his daughters. But for two newborn children to have multiple serious injuries, said Conder, would require an extreme level of recklessness, and an act that was “overly violent.”
Long, at his change-of-plea hearing in March told Conder that he swaddled the girls too tightly, and burped and carried them carelessly.
“That’s absurd,” Conder said Friday. “Whatever the age, broken bones take some force.”
Conder again emphasized the unlikelihood of being so careless with two children, causing multiple injuries resulting in a life flight.
Long’s defense attorney Jon Gerard, who is the public defender supervisor for Fremont County, told Conder that Gerard has represented a small handful of clients whom he found evil and unredeemable. But Long is not one of them.
“He’s a human being,” said Gerard, “It didn’t take more than five minutes for me to be able to feel that this man, that his life is worth redeeming.”
Gerard said Long’s own mother was not in his life, and Long is devastated that he won’t get to be part of his daughters’ lives.
When Long and Gerard have visited, Gerard said, Long rarely discussed his sentencing prospects but always inquired after his daughters.
Gerard said that Long’s behavior was reckless but not intentional. The defender also pushed back on an earlier argument by LeBrun, in which the prosecutor said that Long must either lack empathy or must have seen his daughters as less than human.
“To say that he’s just a strictly cruel and un-empathetic monster is not what I see,” said Gerard. “He’s not a monster. He never will be.”
Gerard also said that Long’s greatest punishment is knowing what he’s done, and not being in his daughters’ lives, and that the weight of these consequences is greater even than a life sentence.
What They Asked
Gerard asked for Conder to impose a sentence of either 4-10 years on each charge or 5-10 years on each charge, so that Long could spend a minimum of eight years in prison and a maximum of 20.
Gerard conceded that probation is not appropriate, and that the two sentences should run consecutively, not concurrently, out of deference to the two victims.
LeBrun, conversely, asked for Conder to impose two 8-10 year sentences consecutively.
LeBrun during his argument emphasized as a tragedy that the two girls could not protest nor testify as to their injuries, and he described experiencing a broken femur as “torturous.”
“It’s inconceivable,” said LeBrun.
Long spoke but not to address Conder. He read aloud from a handwritten letter to his twin daughters.
“You are my light. You are my life and my world,” said Long, who shuddered and wept throughout his statement.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you and all that I’m missing out on,” he continued. “I will never forgive myself as long as I live.”
Long’s stepmother Bethany Long testified in Long’s favor, saying that LeBrun tried to make Long out to be a “monster” but he’s not, and cares genuinely for his little girls.
Long’s stepmother, who said she has raised him since he was 8 years old, said he was always reaching out for parenting advice during his short time with the girls.
“He loved his daughters,” she said. “I don’t think he did this on purpose.”
Conder when speaking to the sentencing factors said that Long has had a lifetime of substance abuse, of every substance conceivable.
The habit likely has a nexus to Long’s crimes against his daughters, Conder said.
Conder also pointed to Long’s criminal history, noting driving-under-the-influence and interference charges within the past seven years.
But in 2022, Long was charged with domestic assault against the twins’ mother, said Conder.
“Every day folks come in, sit in that chair and tell me they love the ones they’ve hurt. And I generally believe them,” said Conder. “But I don’t know what to do with that.”
However, Conder thanked Long for taking enough responsibility to plead guilty and for not arguing for probation, which Conder found was not appropriate.