'Let us grieve': West Fargo father jailed for baby's bathtub death, despite mother's plea
FARGO — Spencer Foner dabbed away tears during his sentencing hearing as his attorney spoke of how the death of Foner’s baby has affected his family and how remorseful Foner is for what happened.
Foner, 28, of West Fargo, was sentenced Monday, Feb. 11, by Cass County District Judge Susan Bailey on a felony count of negligent homicide. The judge ordered him to spend the first year of a five-year sentence behind bars, with the remaining four years suspended as he serves two years of supervised probation.
Foner was originally charged with manslaughter for the March 7 death of his 8-month-old daughter, but he later pleaded guilty in November to an amended charge of negligent homicide.
Monday’s sentencing hearing was emotional for Foner, who remained quiet throughout and declined to comment when the judge asked if he had anything to say, and for Victoria Rose Jones, the baby's mother, who looked on from the gallery.
Jones spoke in court and asked the judge not to send Foner to jail and away from his other kids.
“I just ask that you let us grieve as a family,” Jones said.
According to court documents, West Fargo police were called to Foner’s apartment and found him standing over the baby who was not breathing.
The baby was taken to a hospital but later died, and the autopsy indicated the child drowned, court records show.
Foner told police he put the 8-month-old in a device that allows very young children to sit up in the tub, ran the water and went to the kitchen for no more than five minutes, court records show.
He said the baby was floating face-up in the tub when he returned, court records show.
Patrick O’Day, Foner’s attorney, spoke about the impact the death had on Foner’s family, the trauma they have gone through, and asked that Foner receive a jail sentence of between 90 to 120 days.
The prosecution requested that Foner serve three years out of a five-year prison sentence, and argued that aggravating factors such as the victim's age and Foner’s role as a responsible adult in care of the child require a longer sentence.
Bailey cited the same aggravating factors when sentencing Foner to one year in jail, but also mentioned Foner’s lack of a significant criminal history, his ability to respond positively to probationary help and the steps he’s already taken to improve, like going to substance-use disorder treatment.
Original charging documents mentioned that police officers smelled marijuana and saw drug paraphernalia in Foner’s apartment.
At Monday’s hearing, Foner nodded in agreement when his attorney mentioned that Foner maintains he was not on drugs at the time of the incident.
After the sentencing, Jones left the courtroom and Foner was taken to be booked.