October 31, 2013

Maine man gets 20 years in baby’s death

He admits hurting the child for several weeks before causing a fatal injury by throwing the boy.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

ALFRED — An Arundel man who killed his infant son last year was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison and the maximum 14 years of probation, during which he is to have no contact with his other son.

Ethan Henderson was 2½ months old when his father squeezed his head and threw him against the wall, killing him. The father also broke the child’s arm six weeks earlier.

Family photo

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Gordon Collins-Faunce appears in York County Superior Court in Alfred with his attorney Amy Fairfield on Wednesday, when he pleaded guilty to killing his infant son last year.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Gordon Collins-Faunce, who was severely abused as a young child, pleaded guilty Wednesday in York County Superior Court to manslaughter and assault as part of a plea agreement that averted a murder trial.

Collins-Faunce admitted to killing his 2½-month-old son, Ethan, by squeezing his head and throwing him against a chair. He also confessed that he broke the infant’s arm six weeks earlier – an injury that should have triggered intervention by state or medical professionals.

He also admitted that he inflicted rib and head injuries on the boy in the intervening weeks.

“It’s a horrible child abuse case,” said Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese. “He crushed his son’s skull.”

Collins-Faunce, dressed in the orange sweatshirt and pants of a county jail inmate, with his legs chained at the ankles, did not address Justice John O’Neil at the sentencing.

His mother, Jan Collins, did speak, recounting the terrible childhood that Collins-Faunce had before she and her husband adopted him when he was 8, and how that trauma may have haunted him as he struggled to cope with raising a family.

Collins-Faunce and his two sisters endured sexual, emotional and physical abuse as they moved from their biological family to a series of foster families, she said.

Collins and Irving Faunce, a nursing home administrator who was mayor of Gardiner, adopted all three and raised them through high school. The children were polite, generous and engaged in sports and music, Collins said.

moved in with biological father

Eventually, however, Collins-Faunce sought out his birth parents, even though Faunce read to him the state’s account of abuse he had suffered as a child.

Collins-Faunce and Christina Henderson moved into a house in Arundel with Collins-Faunce’s biological father and she gave birth to twins, Ethan and his brother Lucas. She had a 2-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

Collins said she called “the abuse and neglect hotline” when the couple moved in with the father. She told the judge she believes that in that environment, her son could not cope with the post-traumatic stress disorder from his own abuse.

“I know Gordon loved Ethan,” she said through tears. “I know he still loves Ethan and Lucas.

“Gordon is not a bad person. He has never been a bad person,” Collins told O’Neil, adding that her son had never been in trouble with the law, not even a speeding ticket. She said she fears what awaits her son in prison and worries that he won’t get the counseling he needs.

O’Neil sentenced Collins-Faunce to serve 20 years of a 30-year manslaughter sentence, with suspended sentences of eight and five years, respectively, on two assault charges. The sentences are consecutive so Collins-Faunce could serve as much as 23 more years in prison if he violates probation after he is released.

Christina Henderson also spoke in court, saying Collins-Faunce cost her everything she held dear in life. Her daughter and Ethan’s twin brother have been placed with a foster family that plans to adopt them.

“Ethan did not deserve any of this,” she said, weeping. “A parent is not supposed to bury their child ... hold them and watch their heart rate dip and eventually hold a baby that is not breathing.”

“The person that murdered him should be in jail forever,” she said.

‘a disaster from the beginning’

The case shined a light on the legal requirement for medical professionals and others in child care to report signs of abuse and neglect.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Gordon Collins-Faunce appears in York County Superior Court in Alfred with his attorney Amy Fairfield on Wednesday, when he pleaded guilty to killing his infant son last year.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


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