An Ashburn man who broke a toddler's jaw and used a torch light to brand an "X" on the child's arm was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison.
Prosecutors said that Daniel Robert Miller Jr., 28, abused the 23-month-old son of his then-girlfriend because he was irritated by the boy's crying and that the burn pattern reflected Miller's obsession with the rapper Xzibit, whose trademark gesture is to cross his raised arms in the sign of an X. They said Miller often mimicked the gesture and dreamed of becoming a rap artist himself.
A jury convicted Miller of felony child abuse and malicious wounding after a five-day trial in April and recommended he serve 20 years in prison.
On Friday, Circuit Court Judge James H. Chamblin sentenced Miller to two consecutive 10-year terms but suspended five years of the malicious wounding sentence. If Miller violates probation within the next 30 years, those five years will be restored to the sentence.
Commonwealth's Attorney James P. Fisher said he "violently disagreed" with the reduced sentence.
"This baby was burned . . . with a high-powered torch light, the kind you can't even get in this country legally," he said. "He also beat the baby about the head and chest. . . . For all of those reasons, he deserves 20 years and more."
Miller was charged in May 2004, several weeks after the toddler's mother, Mary Peter Huffman, took her son to Loudoun Hospital Center. Doctors, alarmed by the injuries and the shape of the burns, called authorities. Huffman told authorities that the child was injured while Miller and his sister were baby-sitting him April 9, 2004, in an Ashburn apartment.
While he was jailed, prosecutors said, Miller told another inmate that he had abused the boy. The inmate, Eugene Jones, testified that Miller told him he tried to scare the child by igniting the lighter, then burned the child when that didn't work, prosecutors said.
Defense attorneys argued that there was not enough evidence to prove Miller was the abuser. No biological evidence was introduced to connect Miller to the abuse incident, defense attorney Eric N. Strom said.
In photos prosecutors showed the jury, the toddler's swollen face was marked with bruises and his arms were dotted with raw, pink burn marks. Another photo showed the carpet of the child's Ashburn bedroom spattered with blood. Fisher said Miller's ex-girlfriend, Lena Bonanno, testified that Miller was a fan of Xzibit, a rapper and the host of MTV's "Pimp My Ride," a program in which clunkers are transformed into luxury vehicles.
Fisher said Friday the child has permanent scars from the burning and could face future health problems related to the broken jaw.