A young upstate New York man has been sentenced to 32 years in prison over the death of his baby boy. The infant, identified in an obituary as Noah James Locke, was born on May 10, 2021, and died a little more than two months later on July 16, 2021, according to court records obtained by Law&Crime last summer.
The little boy’s father, Tyler Zaugg, then 19, was indicted by a grand jury on July 9, 2021, on one count of first-degree assault (involving circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life), two counts of second-degree assault (with intent to cause physical injury to a person less than seven years old), and one count of endangering the welfare of a child. The second-degree assault charges involved incidents on June 29 and between July 2 and July 4, 2021, according to Warren County court records.
Zaugg pleaded guilty in February of this year to manslaughter and assault charges.
According to police reports obtained by Law&Crime, Zaugg was accused of striking the less-than-two-month-old infant “in the face with a closed fist causing the victim to sustain a significant brain injury.” The reports also said the defendant hit the victim “in the torso with a closed fist causing the victim to suffer multiple fractured ribs and substantial risk of danger to his life and health.”
The infant’s mother, identified by the obituary and by the Glens Falls, N.Y. Post-Star as Delaney Locke, told the authorities that the defendant called her and told her that their son had “slipped under the water” on July 5, 2021. Rather, the defendant reportedly admitted as part of his plea agreement that he held the child underwater.
“He told me [the baby] wasn’t moving and I needed to come home,” Locke told the police regarding her July 5, 2021 call with Zaugg. “I hung up and called him back and told him to call 911.”
“Tyler has made comments in the past that if a child is abuse [sic] they always blame the dad,” Locke also told the police via a handwritten statement which appears to erroneously list the date of the statement itself as someone’s date of birth.
Rescue crews responded that fateful July day and noted that the infant had suffered “life-threatening injuries,” the Post-Star said.
The staff at Glens Falls Hospital noted that there were bruises on infant’s body; Locke told the police that the “injuries only started about two weeks ago” but that she had “never seen Tyler do anything bad to [the baby].”
During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, District Attorney Jason Carusone said Zaugg had hurt the child previously but “allowed himself” to remain alone with the infant the day the boy was rushed to the hospital, according to video of the proceeding posted online by Albany NBC affiliate WNYT.
The infant’s mother spoke at sentencing.
“To this day, I have no idea exactly . . . no idea what exactly Tyler intentionally did to my baby,” said Locke, now 20, according to the Post-Star. “Though I am young, I did all I could for Noah and just wanted the right to watch my son grow.”
In additional to the aforementioned 32 years behind bars, a judge ordered Zaugg to serve five years of post-release supervision once he’s out of prison.
“You, Mr. Zaugg, were never a father to Noah,” said Warren County Judge Rob Smith. “Instead, you were his (and every child’s) worst nightmare. You are a monster. As a father to two boys, I cannot even begin to fathom how you could commit such violent acts toward an innocent baby.”
“Although the defendant received the maximum determinate prison sentence for his horrific acts, no sentence will bring the victim back to his loved ones,” Carusone said in a press release obtained by the Albany Times-Union. “We hope this lengthy prison term will provide closure to the victim’s family as they try to move forward.”
The early portion of the case file is below:
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