WARNING

PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS A GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION OF THE LIFE AND THE INJURIES SUSTAINED BY THESE CHILDREN.  

THIS INFORMATION IS FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF HIGHLIGHTING THE VERY SAD, REAL AND SHOCKING VIOLENCE THAT EXISTS WITHIN OUR SOCIETY.

THE MAGNITUDE OF CRUELTY THAT MOST OF US CAN ONLY PRAY WE WILL NEVER SEE.

           

Meet CHANDLER A. GRAFNER

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CHANDLER’S STORY

Phillips, 27, looked straight ahead and showed no emotion as he has during the rest of the two-week trial. He made no statement before he was sentenced.

Chandler’s family members whispered an emphatic “Yes!” and held onto one another as they heard Phillips convicted on all counts.

“It would be an understatement to tell you this case was horrific,” prosecutor Verna Carpenter told the judge before Phillips was sentenced, struggling to control her emotions.

Phillips was convicted of causing Chandler to die of starvation and dehydration while keeping him locked in a dark linen closet, surrounded by his excrement, while crying and screaming for something to eat or drink.

Autopsy photos showed him so emaciated that his eye sockets and most bones in his body stuck out. The little hair that hadn’t fallen out from malnutrition was still standing up in the spikes that the little boy favored.

Carpenter said she has her own 7-year-old, blond, blue-eyed son, and then broke off, choking back tears that she had held at bay during the weeks of trial. Prosecutor David Lamb came to stand beside her.

“There is not a sentence long enough for Jon Phillips,” she said. “He deserves the maximum you can give him. That’s what justice requires.”

“This case has taken an emotional toll on everyone,” Judge John Madden said as he imposed the sentence.

Phillips’ mother sobbed into the chest of public defender Darren Cantor after her son was led from the courtroom by deputies. Cantor hugged her and whispered, “Sorry.”

Phillips’ parents left the courthouse, going down a side stairway to avoid reporters.

‘Justice was done’
Chandler’s grandmother, Sandra Younger, said, “We really feel that justice was done here. We are thankful.”

She said she is glad that Phillips will be behind bars for the rest of his life. “I think he’s a sociopath without a conscience.”

Younger told the judge before sentencing, “I hope every day he suffers the way my baby did. I want him to live in the terror Chandler must have lived in. He is a monster.”

Chandler’s mother, Christina Grafner, wasn’t present for the verdict. Younger said she was in the hospital.

Chandler’s aunt, Stefanie Evilsizer, told the judge before sentencing that her nephew’s “beautiful spirit was broken down by the monster sitting before us. He tore our entire world apart.”

As he left the courtroom where he has sat for much of the trial, Chandler’s biological father, Josh Norris said, “I’ve gotten a lot of closure today.”

Norris and Christina Younger also issued a joint statement through an attorney thanking the Denver District Attorney’s Office for “its hard work” in winning the convictions and the community for “its support and continued prayers.”

“We continue to grieve the loss of our little boy. Chandler will never be forgotten.”

Jurors, who sat in the back of the courtroom for the sentencing hearing, declined to talk to reporters but clearly rejected the defense contention that Chandler died from undiagnosed diabetes.

Phillip’s girlfriend, Sarah Berry, 23, pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder, sparing her a possible life sentence for a first-degree murder conviction.

Younger said she supported the plea bargain because Berry had “manned up, she took responsibility and admitted what she did.”

Defense attorneys and one expert pathologist contended that Chandler died of undiagnosed diabetes that caused his body to feed on itself.

However, the bulk of medical experts who testified said there was no sign of diabetes in Chandler’s body. Phillips and Berry had not sought medical care for Chandler in the weeks before he died, while he was wasting away.

Boy fell through cracks
Among the damning evidence was a cell-phone call in which Berry asked Phillips what to do after Chandler became so desperate for water that he threatened to escape from the closet, get a knife and kill them if they didn’t give him a drink. That call was made nine days before he died.

During the two-week trial, jurors were given a grim description of Chandler’s final days. A mortuary worker who weighed him when he delivered his body to the coroner said he weighed 31 pounds.

Doctors said it would have taken a week or two for Chandler to reach the level of starvation and dehydration he had when paramedics were summoned May 6, 2007, to find he was already dead.

Prosecutors contended that Phillips and Berry waited several hours to call 911 while they ripped up and disposed of the feces-encrusted carpet from the linen closet.

In the spring of 2007, Chandler had attracted the attention of teachers, social workers and police, after he came to school with his ear black. He told teachers “my daddy clobbered me” but later changed his story to say he had slipped in the shower.

Chandler fell through the social services cracks and was returned to Phillips and Berry with no follow-up.

His death prompted major efforts to examine what went wrong with his case.

Lamb asked the jury for a first-degree murder conviction during his closing argument, saying, “Anything less than that is a gift of mercy to a man who showed none.”

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