Michigan man gets two life sentences for murder of 4-year-old

Brandon Hayes tortured 4-year-old Dominick for days as the boy's terrified mother stood by.

A Michigan couple was sentenced on February 27 for the death of 4-year-old Dominick Calhoun. The tot’s mother, Corrine Baker, was sentenced by Genesee County Circuit Judge Richard B. Yuille to 13 to 30 years confinement for her role in the death. Dominick died after what police and prosecutors said was a beating and torture by Baker’s erstwhile male companion Brandon Hayes. Hayes received two life sentences for first-degree murder, torture and child abuse.

Baker pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree, as well as to child abuse charges, and given a reduced sentence in exchange for testifying against Hayes. The sphinx-like Hayes was silent during sentencing, in which in addition to the two life sentences he was given 60 to 90 years for torture, 20 to 50 years for child abuse in the first degree, 100 to 150 years for second-degree murder, 10 to 20 years for assault, 5 to 15 years for each of three narcotics charges and another year for child abuse in the fourth degree.

According to Genesee County Sherriff Robert Pickell, Hayes (26) beat Dominick on the head, kicked him the groin and jabbed his eyes after the boy had urinated on a sofa whilst eating his breakfast. After being found beaten and listless on April 11, 2010, Dominick was taken to a hospital in Flint MI where he died the following day after being taken off life support.

Eric Calhoun, Dominick’s father, expressed satisfaction with the verdict and sentencing and said that he was moving on with life. Following the sentencing,  Dominick’s grandfather Rick Calhoun received embraces from supporters in the hallway outside of court in a case that has galvanized the depressed Midwestern city.

(Corinne Baker and sons in happier days)

Before sentences were read in the somber courtroom, Melanie Calhoun – Dominick’s aunt – addressed the proceedings on behalf of the boy’s family. She questioned why Baker – Dominick’s mother – had not left Hayes behind and take her two children to safety. Prosecutors say that Baker had a deaf ear for Dominick’s plaints for help. While recognizing that it was Hayes who ravaged the little boy,

Melanie Calhoun said that Baker also bears a burden of guilt. Comparing convicted killer Hayes to a murderous weapon, Calhoun said “Corrine is the one that loaded that weapon by putting the boys in that situation.” The surviving boy is now in the custody of relatives.

As Baker wept before the bench in apparent remorse, Judge Yuille said “I hope some of those tears are for Dominick...But I have my doubts.” Before receiving her sentence, Baker said “I will have to answer to God one day, and I only hope that I will be forgiven.” Baker was herself abused by Hayes and expressed the hope that Dominick’s death will increase awareness of abuse. “I know that my son did not die in vain,” she said.

Addressing the laconic Hayes, Judge Yuille said that over the course of the trial he became increasingly amazed at the extent of the savagery directed at the little boy. Yuille said “I would sit out here at night and wonder how this could even happen. I thought the trial could provide some answers but it never did.”


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.


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