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Defense attorney: 'This is a situation of children having children'
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Defense attorney: 'This is a situation of children having children'

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A Lincoln teenager who admitted he sometimes squeezed his infant daughter out of frustration at her crying and once head-butted her causing his own head to hurt for an hour and a half got a chance at probation at his sentencing Thursday on a felony child abuse charge.

"I think what's important to understand about this case is that this is a situation of children having children," 18-year-old Treyvonn Ironshell's attorney, Bill Chapin, said first. 

Ironshell was 17 on Jan. 23, 2019, when his 3-month-old daughter was transferred to Nebraska Medicine in Omaha with bleeding on her brain.

At a plea hearing, Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Jeremy Lavene said Ironshell told police in an interview a few days later that he sometimes would squeeze the girl, digging his fingernails into her arms and legs when he got angry, and had twice grabbed her face and squeezed and shook her.

Ironshell also told investigators that once, a week or two before the interview, he head-butted the girl because he was angry that he had to get up early to watch her and she wouldn't stop crying, he said.

Lavene said the girl's forehead was bruised from eyebrow to eyebrow and Ironshell told police he had a headache for 90 minutes.

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Lincoln police arrested Ironshell at his high school on Jan. 30, 2019. In May, he pleaded no contest to attempted first-degree assault.

On Thursday, appearing for sentencing by video from the jail, Ironshell turned down a chance to say something first.

But Chapin said there is a juvenile court case and an effort to correct the teen's behavior so he can be reunited with his daughter. He said it was in the best interests of Ironshell, his daughter and the state.

He asked the judge to consider a lengthy probation sentence with mental health counseling and anger management. 

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"I don't know what benefit the state is going to get by locking him up for a substantial period of time," Chapin said. 

Then, Lavene said the injured child is doing well now. But "what he did here was very serous, life-threatening for this child," he said.

If the judge decided to give Ironshell probation, Lavene asked for the maximum five-year term and 90-day jail sentence. Otherwise, he said, the facts here certainly warrant a prison sentence. 

In the end, Lancaster County District Judge Robert Otte said his first instinct clearly was to put him in prison.

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"As I thought through it, given the amount of time that you've served, your young age, all of the other factors, I really thought keeping my thumb on you for a long period of time was best," he said, giving him five years of probation and 90 days of jail, 30 of it starting Thursday.

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Ironshell already had been in a detention center until he turned 18 and was moved to the county jail for 390 days, the equivalent of a two-year prison term with credit for good time.

"It might be easier to go to prison, quite frankly," Otte said. 

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger

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Public safety reporter

Lori Pilger is a Norfolk native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been a public safety reporter for the Journal Star since 2005.

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