Damian Garrett was sentenced after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in connection to the September 2019 death of Skylar Pappel

By Gabrielle Chung
September 04, 2020 07:28 PM
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Damian Garrett

A Michigan man has been sentenced to 25 to 50 years for the killing of a 21-month-old toddler.

Damian Garrett, 24, was sentenced on Friday after pleading guilty to one count of second-degree murder in connection to the September 2019 death of Skylar Pappel, with credit for 352 days already served in jail, Midland County Prosecuting Attorney J. Dee Brooks tells PEOPLE.

His previous charges of first-degree murder and child endangerment were dismissed as part of the plea deal.

According to the prosecution, Garrett was bathing Skylar — whose mother he was dating at the time — when the child became fussy and started crying.

"He got angry and smacked her hard on the back. He says she fell forward and hit her face on the faucet for the bathtub, and she did have an injury to her mouth and lip area that was consistent with that," Brooks says.

The child then fell face forward into the water, according to Brooks, while Garrett stepped out to the living room for "five to six minutes." Upon returning to the bathroom, Garrett found the toddler still facedown in the bathtub and called for help.

The Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office determined that Skylar's death was drowning, with multiple head injuries as possible contributing factors, MLive.com reported.

Garrett later gave a statement that Skylar kept falling and hitting her head on the tub during the bath, according to Brooks.

"We didn't necessarily believe that," Brooks tells PEOPLE. "We believe she was struck on top of the head or held in the water."

Brooks says Skylar's parents did not give a victim impact statements during the sentencing on Friday, though the mother had previously written a letter to the court.

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While facing a judge, Garrett was "somewhat emotional" and "did apologize for what had happened," according to Brooks.

"What I hate about cases like this, there's no way to restore or lessen the loss," Brooks says. "I'm glad it was resolved the way it was. I think it was a fair and just resolution. I think he has been held accountable for what he did."

The prosecutor adds that he hopes the case helps "serve as a notice or education to people that you need to be careful, especially with real small children."

"You need to be aware of ... who is taking care of them and try to be sure that they have the experience and ability to do so safely because unfortunately it can only take one momentary burst of anger to do something that can't be taken back," Brooks says.

An attorney for Garrett did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.