Six years later, justice for slain toddler

- Prosecutors say the last few weeks of 3-year-old John Taylor Baxley's life were filled with daily beatings.  Now, six years later, there is justice for John.

"Being a child is not supposed to hurt," John's grandmother, Mickey Baxley, said Monday.

John, according to prosecutors, was abused at the hands of his father, Justin Garwacki, and Garwacki's girlfriend at the time, Kara O'Connell.  Garwacki took a plea deal and testified against O'Connell at her trial in exchange for a lighter sentence.

"I witnessed her pick him up by the throat, hold him up to the ceiling fan, and tell him if he didn't get his s**t right, she was going to hang him from the ceiling fan," said Garwacki. 

Graphic autopsy pictures of the toddler showed bruises and scars from head to toe. 

At Garwacki's sentencing last month, he couldn't explain why he did it.

"I really wish I could bring him back, I really do.  I was horrible to him and I don't know why," he offered.

Kara O'Connell never spoke at her sentencing, but a heartbroken grandmother did.

"I've got to have justice for my grandson," she added.  "He was not a bad child.  He was a normal, happy, beautiful child."

Garwacki's plea deal got him 25 years in prison in exchange for pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

A jury found O'Connell guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter, yet Hillsborough circuit judge William Fuente handed her a stiffer sentence of 28 years in prison to think about what she did to a sweet little boy.

"I realize this child's abuse and death has permanently scarred and injured many, many people," Judge Fuente said.

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