Over the objections of prosecutors, Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald today sentenced Sloane Steven Briles to three years probation, a year in a child abusers treatment program and 180 days in a Veterans Administration residential treatment program for throwing his 7-year-old son off a cruise boat in Newport Harbor last August.
Deputy District Attorney Cyril Yu argued Irvine 35-year-old Briles should have received more jail time.
In exchange for the sentence, Briles pleaded guilty to one felony count of child abuse and endangerment and one misdemeanor count of resisting an officer.
Around 1 p.m. on Aug. 28, an inebriated Briles was aboard the Harbor Queen cruising Newport Harbor and his two children from a previous relationship when multiple witnesses saw him poke the child in the chest and slap him across the face, making the boy cry and plead with his father to stop. But daddy responded by picking the boy up and throwing him into the drink and oncoming boat traffic.
That forced the first mate to turn the Harbor Cruise to protect the child, the captain to toss a life ring to the boy and passengers to dive in after him. Briles has maintained he soon jumped into the water also, but prosecutors maintained that was not to save his son but avoid angry passengers on the harbor cruise.
Another boat eventually helped the boat and, though the Queen crew asked that Briles not be helped, he was eventually pulled back aboard. Briles later struggled with sheriff's deputies trying to remove him from the boat and had to be dragged, as he let his body go limp, onto the sheriff;s Harbor Patrol boat.
Briles later told the media he and his son were playing a game where the boy pretended he was crying and in danger, but his former wife, and the boy's mother, denied that.
He also tried unsuccessfully to get his case moved to the Veterans Court, which deals with veterans with PTSD caught up in the criminal justice system, but he probably got as good a deal from Judge Fitzgerald as he might have received there. Briles' Facebook page states he was a U.S. Marine Corps sergeant and Orange Coast College student.
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