WAKEFIELD – After being found guilty by a jury in January of first-degree child abuse, a local man was sentenced Friday afternoon by a Washington County Superior Court judge to serve 15 years at the ACI.
Superior Court Associate Justice Edwin Gale ordered Brian Verry, 34, to serve 15 years at the ACI for the most serious charge against him — first-degree child abuse. The sentence would be followed by five years probation, a five-year suspended sentence and mental health counseling for Verry’s probationary period.
According to evidence presented by the state, Narragansett police and doctors, in March 2006 Verry shook his infant daughter so hard that it caused her brain to swell, and without immediate and intensive medical care, she would have died. After a hung jury in April 2010, another jury found Verry guilty after a second trial ending on Jan. 14.
Authorities said it was the culmination of several months of abuse that included Verry hitting his daughter on the head in order to quiet her during screaming fits. At the time, Verry lived in Narragansett, but since has had listed addresses of 846 Tower Hill Road, North Kingstown, and 23 Melrose St., Apt. #1, East Greenwich.
Two other charges against Verry — felony assault and simple assault — were lumped in concurrently with the lead charge. It came after an hour of emotionally charged testimony from Gale, prosecutor Stephen Regine, defense attorney Richard Corley, and Verry’s ex-wife and the mother of the victim, Megan Verry.
Megan Verry said she didn’t know if she could ever again truly trust someone after the ordeal she had been through.
“This is a nightmare that hasn’t gone away and never will go away in totality,” she said. “It’s a really hard thing to have to admit to a courtroom of people that you didn’t know how stupid you were.”
Fighting back tears as she testified, Megan Verry described herself as “so duped, so fooled, so stupid” for defending her ex-husband.
“It took me so long to be able to ferret out the truth,” she said. “He did it, he’s never owned up to it. He has to take responsibility at some point, that’s my feeling.”
Verry chose not to testify at his sentencing, although Gale noted that there were letters from his current wife and family asking for leniency and noting his strong work ethic. Verry looked away as he was led from the courtroom in handcuffs following his sentencing.
Corley noted his intention to appeal the jury verdict and sentencing to the Rhode Island Supreme Court. He argued for a five-year sentence at the ACI, followed by five years probation and a similar suspended sentence.
“I must say that I have my doubts over what exactly happened with the injuries,” he said. “Brian Verry is a simple person. He was trying to take care of his family.”
In his argument for the maximum possible sentence — 20 years at the ACI, followed by a consecutive 10 years of probation and a 10-year suspended sentence — Regine said Brian Verry had anger management and impulse control issues that still made him a danger to society and children.
“When the crying came, he struck,” Regine said of Verry. “In a period of three weeks, he broke 30 bones in her body … He was frustrated he was once again left with [the child].”
Regine noted that Verry had opportunities to claim the incident with his infant child was an accident, but instead made doctors and authorities waste time with things like a brittle bone disease diagnosis.
While Regine said it was miraculous that Verry’s child was still alive and seemingly healthy now, the lasting impact of the crime “doesn’t have to be a physical injury.” He said Megan Verry would have to deal with the trauma and fallout as her child found out what her father had done.
Gale concurred with Regine’s reasoning in handing down the sentence to Verry, talking of the “almost unimaginable mental anguish” that his child “will have to come to grips with, that her biological father assaulted her.”
“[Megan Verry] has to deal with telling [her daughter] about this horrible chapter in the infant’s life,” Gale said.
When handing down the sentence, Gale spoke repeatedly about the lack of culpability Brian Verry showed in almost all of his dealings with the court and authorities.
“Mr. Verry has not come to terms with what he did,” Gale said. “He has to acknowledge his condition and the chances of it being repeated in the future before the children of this state can be safe.”
Gale added that in his opinion, the state had “overwhelmingly proved that the defendant was guilty of the allegations.”
“There is just no doubt that it was the defendant who caused those horrible injuries,” he said.