‘Baby strangler’ takes blind plea

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An Andalusia man pleaded guilty Monday to attempted murder after he nearly strangling his then 2-month-old daughter to death in 2008 because she wouldn’t stop crying.

Robert Allen Seaney, 22, was charged after rescue workers responded to a report of a baby who had stopped breathing, but had been resuscitated at the Seaney home. Reports indicate it was apparent to medical personnel and law enforcement the child had been strangled. She was life flighted to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., where she was diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome.

The following day, Seaney was questioned by sheriff’s office investigators.

“Over the course of two interviews, Mr. Seaney admitted to strangling the baby with his hands, to wrapping an electrical cord around her neck and choking her, and to shaking the baby violently,” said District Attorney Greg Gambril. “He confessed that the baby actually stopped breathing at one point and that he resuscitated her,” Gambril said.  “Mr. Seaney said that he did all these things to try and stop her from crying.”

He was later indicted by a Covington County grand jury for the crime.

Now, Seaney is facing a minimum of 10 years up to life in prison after entering a “blind plea” arrangement with the district attorney’s office, which means the state and the defense agree what to charge the defendant with, but not what the sentence will be.

“That’s up for the court to decide,” Gambril said, speaking of Seaney’s sentence. “To put it a different way, it’s as if we took the case to trial and Mr. Seaney was found guilty of attempted murder, which would present the same scenario where sentencing is left up to the judge.”

Gambril said the only concession in the case made by the state was the dismissal of a first-degree domestic violence charge.

“Though he could have been convicted of this offense at trial, Mr. Seaney could not have been given any extra time for it as the charge arose out of the same conduct as the attempted murder charge did,” he said. “In essence, we gave up an additional felony, but no additional time.”

While no sentencing date has been set, Gambril said he plans to seek the maximum sentence of life in prison.

“This is a horrible crime on all levels,” he said. “If this baby had died, Mr. Seaney would have been facing a capital murder charge. Instead, he failed in his attempt and can only be charged with a Class A felony. There is no excuse for this man’s conduct.”