Teen Dad Sentenced in Killing of Baby Son

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A Des Moines teen was sentenced Wednesday for second degree murder in the death of his baby son.

Eighteen-year-old Drew Weehler-Smith was sentenced to up to 50 years in prison and must serve 17.5 years before he can become eligible for parole.

"You're going to spend about the amount of time that you've currently lived on the planet Earth in prison as a mandatory minimum. At that point of time, depending on what you've proved in prison, you may have the opportunity for parole," said Judge Jeffery Farrell.

Weehler-Smith was initially charged with first degree murder in the death of his four-month-old son Gabriel McFarland, but accepted a plea deal for second degree murder in January. The child was in his care in April of 2014 when he left the child alone at the apartment of the baby’s mother.

When the mother returned home she found the baby unresponsive. An autopsy showed Gabriel died from severe head injuries. Prosecutors say Weehler-Smith shook the baby and caused his death.

During the sentencing hearing, Weehler-Smith’s mother testified on her son's behalf.

"He’s really a kind-hearted person. He always has been. He’s a very sensitive, compassionate. This really was totally out of character for him. I’ve never seen him hurt anyone or anything," said Deb Smith.

Smith said she wasn’t aware she had a grandson until Des Moines police contacted her after Gabriel’s death.

Weehler-Smith apologized during the hearing and asked for forgiveness.

"One of the biggest problems is forgiving myself and I just want to apologize to everybody who I've affected," he said.

Baby Gabriel still bears the name of his adoptive parents, Heidi and Rachel McFarland. The couple was in the process of adopting him when Gabriel's birth mother changed her mind.

"I’m not saying that I forgive Drew because I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get to that point in my life, but I think that he might be able to become a much better person in prison," said Rachel McFarland.

After all the couple's heartache, they have some good news to share. They adopted a girl last summer and Heidi is expecting another girl next month.

"I’m really happy that all these wonderful things have come out of this, but the grief and sadness is very profound," said McFarland.

The couple is suing their attorney over claims he botched the adoption. The McFarlands say he failed to file paperwork terminating the birth mother's parental rights which allowed her to regain custody.

7 comments

  • kd

    Well, at least he’ll be eligible to get out in time to knock somebody else up! I’m sure glad we don’t sterilize people like this! When you wish upon a star…..

  • RALPH

    This was more than a bad decision with permanent consequences. He didn’t get caught selling some pot as a 17 year old. Making it hard to find a decent job as an adult. That would be a poor decision with permanent consequences made while being young and dumb. He killed someone, a baby at that. Someone that couldn’t help themselves and had no choice in the matter. This man should be publicly lynched and made example of. Possibly preventing other similar instances.

  • knowthelawpeople

    they are suing the attorney for not filing paperwork? I thought mom was 15 or something when she had the baby. Last time I checked, a 15 year old cannot sign termination paperwork. I sure hope the McStupids hired good representation if they plan to take that argument to trial! And if there was no termination, there was no adoption. Man o man, it will be fun to watch Channel 13 try and make a story out of this mess.

    • JX

      You absolutely can sign papers to terminate your parental rights at 15. How else would a 15 yr old give their baby up for adoption….

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