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Man sentenced to 46 years in beating death of child

Man sentenced to 46 years in beating death of child

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Shawn Wesley Field will be almost 80 years old before he is eligible for parole. Judge Janet Holcomb sentenced Field Wednesday to 46 years and five months in prison.

Under Measure 11 sentencing guidelines, he is not eligible for early release or any alternative programs. Field is 35 years old now.

"In my almost 20 years in criminal justice," Holcomb said in the packed courtroom, "this is one of the worst cases of brutality I have ever seen."

Field was convicted almost two weeks ago of multiple charges of murder in the June 3, 2005 death of Karla "Karly" Sheehan. Karly was 3 years old when Field beat her to death. She was the daughter of Field's then-girlfriend, Sarah Sheehan.

"Mr. Field, this is a very sober moment for our community," Holcomb said. "When you dealt the last blow, you dealt a blow to the entire community."

On Monday and Tuesday for the first time, Field's parents and friends, as well as a psychologist, testified in his defense. Ann Field, Shawn Field's mother, described her son as very athletic and interested in sports as a child. He was not performing up to his parents' expectations academically during high school, so they enrolled him at Santiam Christian School.

"Maybe it was a culture shock to go to such a small school," Ann Field said. "It was difficult for him to accept the strictness."

"He ran into a criminal problem," said defense attorney Daniel Koenig.

"That's true," Ann Field replied.

At the age of 16, Shawn Field was arrested along with two friends for burglary and for the kidnapping of one friend's mother. Ann Field said that her son accepted his punishment in that case and felt sorry for what he had done.

But Ann Field didn't remember that Shawn Field had admitted to numerous burglaries, some at neighbors' homes, and thefts from Santiam Christian School. Nor did she remember that Shawn Field had admitted to police he was the author of the scheme to commit the burglaries and the kidnapping.

The Fields' eldest son, Kevin, died of a drug overdose in 1992. Ann Field testified that Shawn Field changed after Kevin's death.

"We saw like a renaissance of Shawn," she said. He lost 50 or 60 pounds, down from 300 pounds, so he'd look nice for a cruise the family took in the months following Kevin's death. He enrolled in classes at Linn-Benton Community College. He excelled in economics and received an academic award in that subject.

Shawn Field didn't complete a bachelor's degree, however. And he told his parents the same lie he told many other friends, family and acquaintances - that he had a master's degree in economics and was studying for a Ph.D. at Oregon State University. Field actually did get a bachelor's degree from OSU in the spring of 2005, shortly before Karly's murder.

Shawn Field's father, Hugh Field, told the court he is now retired from a 30-year career, largely at Hewlett-Packard.

"I guess you would call me a computer geek," he said.

He described his son as, "Fun, loving."

Both parents testified that Shawn Field was a wonderful father to his daughter, Kaitlyn. Everyone who testified for the defense said they had never seen Shawn Field be anything but kind, loving and attentive with Kaitlyn.

Testimony in the sentencing hearing closed with two psychologists - Frank Calistro for the state, and Loren Mallory for the defense.

Mallory evaluated Field shortly before the trial began in late September. He testified that he found Field to be of average intelligence, did not have any diagnosable psychological problems and seemed a fairly well-adjusted person.

Under cross-examination by deputy district attorney Joan Demarest he said he had not attempted to independently verify any of Field's statements during the interview. Although he is an expert in family violence, Mallory was not aware that Field's ex-wife Eileen said she had been abused by him - that she had been kicked down the stairs, strangled and smothered. Mallory said if he was aware of possible domestic abuse in a case, he would interview both husband and wife.

But in this case, he was only aware of what Field told him - that Field's first wife had thrown pots and pans at him and that Sarah Sheehan had thrown him through a window on one occasion. Field told Mallory that he himself had not abused anyone.

Mallory also admitted that he had not taken into consideration the crimes for which Field was on trial. Field denied to Mallory that he had committed any of the violent acts he was accused of. Mallory also didn't take into account the possibility Field had lied to him about his innocence, or the fact that Field has been convicted of the charges against him.

Calistro testified that people who commit acts of violence like torture are not treatable psychologically. They don't respond well to rehabilitation because they don't become violent in moments of passion or lack of control. They use violence deliberately as a means to an end, and they don't feel bad about it.

"You can't treat someone for something they don't see as a problem," Calistro said.

Gwyneth Gibby covers police and courts for the Gazette-Times. She can be reached at 758-9548 or gwyneth.gibby@lee.net.

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