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Man gets 20 years for scalding child

Gleed, supporters, burn expert say injuries were accidental
2013-01-31T13:47:00Z 2014-06-11T09:38:02Z Man gets 20 years for scalding childBy SANJAY TALWANI Independent Record Helena Independent Record
January 31, 2013 1:47 pm  • 

A 25-year-old Helena man, still maintaining his innocence, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday for the May 2012 bathtub scalding of his 3-year-old son.

Christopher Lee Gleed has said from the start of the case that the burning of the child was accidental, and his lawyer indicated an appeal was likely.

“They just sentenced an innocent man,” said Dr. Jerold Kaplan, a burn expert whose attempt to testify at sentencing was rejected by District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock.

About 30 of Gleed’s supporters filled the courtroom and heard Sherlock follow the recommendation of prosecutors and a probation officer and order the maximum possible sentence for aggravated assault.

Prosecutors said the boy was submerged in a bathtub filled with 130-degree water on May 2. He was taken to a burn center in Salt Lake City and spent more than six weeks in the hospital. A jury convicted Gleed on Dec. 19, 2012 after a two-day trial.

At sentencing, Gleed’s attorney, Palmer Hoovestal, tried to call Kaplan as a witness. Sherlock refused, saying Kaplan had missed an opportunity to testify at the trial, and he would not allow him to argue the jury verdict.

Kaplan, of Berkeley, Calif., would have countered testimony in the trial that said the scalding was deliberate, Hoovestal said.

“This (burn) pattern is such a classic accidental burn and absolutely incompatible with intentional burn injuries,” Kaplan said after the hearing.

Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher said it was the worst case of child abuse he had seen.

Gleed, he said, did not attack the child out of anger set off by something like a dirty diaper, as some parents have. And despite some issues with alcohol, Gleed was not intoxicated during the incident.

“The injuries to this child were a project that Mr. Gleed engaged in that day,” Gallagher said. “Somehow he got the water very, very hot.”

He said Gleed gave the boy “repeated, horrendous” scaldings.

“This is something that was cold, calculated and deliberate,” he said.

Probation and Parole Officer Cathy Murphy testified that the boy suffered extreme pain.

“So much pain that the nurse at the hospital indicated that nothing could lower his pain other than sedating him,” she said. “It was just a very painful and long experience.”

The boy had repeated painful procedures including the debridement, or removal, of burned skin, she said.

He still has painful scars and ongoing medical issues, but another witness said he is doing “wonderfully.”

Hoovestal argued for a sentence of 10 years of probation. He noted that Gleed, who had been working as a bartender, was contributing financially to the family and has no prior history of violent crimes.

Murphy said the mother of the boy also believes the burning was accidental and hopes the family, which includes two baby twins, will someday reunite. Gleed testified that he has not yet seen the twins, except in pictures.

Gleed acknowledged some shortcomings in his parenting, including failing to be part of his son’s life early on, but said he “manned up” and came back into his life.

“I love my kid,” he said. “The allegation … about doing this on purpose, knowingly, intentionally, is just appalling to me.”

Sherlock said he was alarmed by the statements of Gleed and his supporters that they believe the burning was accidental.

“I’ve never seen a case like this where a child hasn’t died,” he said of the extent of the injuries.

Kaplan was unable to testify at the trial as scheduled, and Sherlock would not move the trial date to accommodate him, Gleed’s brother, Kory Gleed, said after the hearing.

“Where I’m angry is, the judge basically admitted. I thought up there, that he knows that there’s an expert witness that could have altered the course of the case,” he said. “I don’t think the search for justice was done.”

If the conviction and sentence are upheld, Christopher Gleed could be eligible for parole in about five years.

Reporter Sanjay Talwani: 447-4086, Follow Sanjay on

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. skytrailz
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    skytrailz - February 07, 2013 3:55 pm
    “The injuries to this child were a project that Mr. Gleed engaged in that day,” Gallagher said. “Somehow he got the water very, very hot.” He said Gleed gave the boy “repeated, horrendous” scaldings. “This is something that was cold, calculated and deliberate,” he said. Probation and Parole Officer Cathy Murphy testified that the boy suffered extreme pain. “So much pain that the nurse at the hospital indicated that nothing could lower his pain other than sedating him,” she said. “It was just a very painful and long experience.” Quote.. from the article. The child can not defend himself.. and of course the mother is going to side with this person. She may need to for her own personal reasons. The lawyer most likely told him to say that "he did not do this out of anger or a dirty diaper". And of course he is going to say "he manned up and is back into his life". He doesn't want to go to prison! This does not mean that he didn't do it on purpose. And if he wasn't intoxicated like the article suggests.. then he is EXTREMELY negligent. The fact that there were no prior incidences of abuse means nothing. It all starts somewhere. Do you suppose hot steam would indicate hot water, (by the way.. how did it get that hot) and why)? or the screaming would indicate the child is hurt? I am not praying for the accused.. I am praying for the child's justice and placement in a safe environment.
  2. InPlainSight
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    InPlainSight - February 06, 2013 8:54 pm
    This poor family... there is no way this was intentional. This man needs another chance for his side of the story to be heard. I can't imagine this man, whom has no prior record of abuse on this child just up and decided to do this. I am sure this family is in enough pain, my prayers are with you all.
  3. FlamingLiberal1
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    FlamingLiberal1 - February 05, 2013 8:13 am
    I feel so sad for that poor little kid. It takes more than a momentary dip in scalding water to produce injuries like that. As a parent, who doesn't test the water temperature before putting in a child? And most parents turn down the temp on the water heater a bit to avoid this sort of accident. I don't know what happened or if it was deliberate, but that child nearly died.
  4. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - February 04, 2013 2:47 pm
    Can someone please explain to me how you put a small child accidently into hot bath water? I can't speak for other parents, but I never trusted my own "how the water feels" test because my hands tolerate a lot of hot temperatures. Actually, they say not to use hands anyway to test water but elbow since hands aren't all that sensitive. I always used a bath thermometer and the kids never went near the tub until I was absolutely sure the water temp was where it should be (between 90-100F)
  5. CtzNX
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    CtzNX - February 04, 2013 2:33 pm
    The mothers faith in Chris's innocence and the experts opinion of the burns are enough for me to make my opinion.......praying for everyone involved and and waiting for an innocent man to be reunited with his family
  6. skywatcher
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    skywatcher - February 01, 2013 3:48 pm
    he says "I love my kid"- that's some pretty tough love, there- maybe someone should show the same kind of "love" to him and see how he likes it-
  7. Broncfn
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    Broncfn - February 01, 2013 2:50 pm
    You are completely incorrect in this case. Chris is a loving father and an even better human being. It is a horrible horrible accident that unfortunatly cannot be undone, but to put an innocent man behind bars away from his kids is a disgrace. The judge in this case did not allow his expert witness which would have most certainly changed the outcome of this case. I can not wait until the appeals process works and Chris is cleared of these obsurd charges.
  8. kelli
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    kelli - February 01, 2013 12:28 pm
    As the alternate juror on this case, I feel as though the case was not proved "beyond a reasonable doubt". I think with children, especially special needs children that are non-verbal, very unusual circumstances can and do occur. I pray for this little boy and his father.
  9. skytrailz
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    skytrailz - February 01, 2013 10:27 am
    Realizing that innocent until proven guilty, I would think that a screaming child with blisters and extensive burns resulting in admission to a burn center would indicate an act of intentional violence. I pray for this child's recovery and hope that justice is served to anyone that would commit such an act. What a heart-breaking story, and so glad this child is still alive and has a second chance.
  10. JstSayin
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    JstSayin - February 01, 2013 1:13 am
    Wow, not sure where the paper gets their info, but this was not on purpose! This was an accident! It was not punishment! Maybe Chris should be interviewed so everyone can hear the real story.

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