Almost three years to the day when four-year-old Aaron Benjamin Jr. died from a beating in his home on St. Croix his mother admitted that she did not try to help or protect him. Three months after pleading guilty to child abuse, the mother – Delicia Daniel – was ordered to serve 18 years in prison by a judge in Superior Court on Wednesday. But Judge Harold Willocks said the sentence was appropriate, given the facts of the case.
He also granted a credit of two years, four months and six days for the time already served by the defendant. Willocks said the evidence leading to the child’s death was not the result of a single incident, but a series of violent episodes dished out by boyfriend and former codefendant Kyle Christopher.
Christopher is awaiting trial on charges of murder, assault, child abuse and child neglect. He was arrested, along with Daniel, about a week after Aaron’s death. In a statement given to police shortly after his arrest, Christopher said Daniel also physically abused her son.
“Justice is not about revenge; it is not about retribution, but it is about finding a balance. This court is not swayed about outbursts of grief. It is not swayed by any comments made on talk shows,” Willocks said.
During Wednesday’s sentencing, the defendant said she loved her children, but was afraid that standing up for them against her boyfriend would lead to her death. “I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t be alive and breathing,” she said.
Her defense attorney acknowledged her client failed to call the police or take Aaron to the hospital after Christopher allegedly beat him for the last time on Oct. 10, 2019. He was found unresponsive in the apartment in Lorraine Village Housing Community the following day.
The prosecutor in the case said the defendant also failed to display any remorse about her son’s death.
“Here we have a child … He had bruises on his nose, a lump on his right cheek, bruises on his back and on his butt cheeks. He had scars on his butt cheeks, some black and some lighter. He died of blunt force trauma. This was something that happened over a period of time, and Daniel had to have known,” he said.
“The issue is not what happened to her. This is about the children and her failure to protect them. Miss Daniel may not have been the one who punched little AJ, who beat her daughter, but she knew.”
Defense attorney Nicole-Lynn King-Richardson said her client was in no position to help the children because she herself was repeatedly abused as a child and was mentally conditioned to accept abuse.
Just before hearing her fate, Daniel tearfully apologized for her inactions. “I should have gotten the bus to take my child. I want to apologize to my mom and to my great-grandmom for the suffering I put them through. I also apologize to the people of St. Croix. Everybody may think I’m a monster, but that’s not true. I’m just guilty of making wrong decisions,” she said.
The judge replied that it was apparent the mother had suffered throughout the ordeal, but even a chicken will protect her chicks from harm.
“You have to understand, you are the mother. I don’t mean to be harsh on you, because I know you are suffering. I hear you say you are not a monster. You are not a monster at all, but you stopped being a mother,” Willocks said.