It seems unfathomable. James Moss, accused of beating his son, burning his hands over an open stove, then stuffing him in the oven, because he thought the 11-year old boy stole $20 from him. Moss, in court Friday, got an incredibly light sentence.
Moss' 11-year old son, Christopher the victim of the brutal 2010 attack by his father, made a tear-filled plea before the judge on Friday for leniency for his dad. The New York Daily News reports that he told the judge in a Staten Island courtroom,
"Dear judge, I will fight so hard (for) my dad to live with me. God will solve everything if you make the right choice. And I forgive my dad a lot. He made a big mistake, but really somewhere in his heart he (is) funny, lovable, caring and a great father. Everybody in my family ... is giving him a second chance,"
Staten Island Judge Robert Collini then decided to spare the 6-foot-2, 270-pound Moss from an expected seven-year prison sentence. He gave Moss just four months of weekends in jail and five years probation for the vicious attack.
The 53-year old Moss was thankful.
"My son is a better man than me. I'm very sorry for what I did."
Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, who had called the attack one of the most "shocking and sadistic" he's seen in his career, had argued for a harsher penalty. But he admitted it was out of his hands.
"We made what we believed was a very persuasive sentence recommendation to the court that significant jail time was appropriate, considering the harm that was inflicted upon this child. Ultimately, sentencing is in the purview of the court, and the judge in this case imposed a sentence which he believed was right."
Prosecutors say the attack was extremely brutal. They point out that Moss threatened to kill his son during the rampage. He ripped the child's clothes off, beat him with a spatula and burned both his hands on a hot stove until the skin started peeling off them. The father then punched the naked kid in the face and forced the screaming boy into the oven. In doing so, he howled,
"I'm going to burn you alive!"
Moss eventually let Christopher out of the oven without turning it on, but then he threw the nude child with the burned hands into the front yard. Documents reveal that when the boy was allowed back inside, he was ordered to sit on the floor. His father told him
"Sit like a dog."
But in the courtroom on Friday, Christopher cuddled with his father before taking the witness stand to plead for him.
One reassuring fact is that although the sentence is lenient, it won't permanently reunite the father with his son. It bars James Moss from living with Christopher for at least one year, and he will only be permitted now to see the boy during supervised visits.