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Sentencing for child's death in Scranton

Christopher Mele pleaded guilty to murder and child endangerment charges last month and was in court Friday to find out how long he'd be behind bars.

SCRANTON, Pa. — It was an emotional day in court listening to victim impact statements about the loss of the 16-month-old child at the hands of Christopher Mele back in 2019. 

Mele took a plea deal last month instead of going to trial and learned how long he'd be behind bars.

It was inside a home along North Bromley Avenue in October of 2019 that 16-month-old Chance Baumbarger was beaten and strangled by Christopher Mele. 

Mele admitted to investigators that he hit and strangled the child while the child's mother was upstairs taking a shower. The child later died from his injuries. 

Before the case was scheduled to go to trial, Mele pleaded guilty last month to third degree murder and endangering welfare of children.

During sentencing, District Attorney Mark Powell said the judge should impose the maximum sentence.

"Mele is a baby killer and has a history of crimes that have escalated over the course of his life," said Powell.

Mele's attorney Curt Parkins disputed the term baby killer saying "it's grandiose and inflammatory." "He didn't intend to kill the child or premeditate it. That term does not fit what Mele did."

Chance's mother, Nicole was also in court, and was too emotional to read her victim impact statement aloud. 

District Attorney Powell summarized it in court saying, "She will forever be guilt ridden for allowing Mele into her home and do what he did, and bear the burden for it in the loss of her child."

Mele also spoke and was emotional when he said "I never meant for this to happen" and apologized to the child's mother and the rest of her family in court.

Judge Munley sentenced Mele to 30 to 60 years in state prison, the maximum for the charges.

Following sentencing, the Judge Munley said "given the defendant's youth, this sentence should allow for appropriate rehabilitation".

Judge Munley also said Mele will receive credit for time served already, and is not allowed to have any contact with the victim's family.

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