DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine (AP) — A father who’d faced a series of domestic violence charges was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the death of his 1-month-old son in a case that renewed criticism of Maine’s child welfare agency.

Reginald Melvin, 30, of Milo, was sentenced Wednesday after entering a plea that had a similar consequence to a guilty plea to a charge of manslaughter. Under an agreement, prosecutors dropped a murder charge. His son, Sylus, died in August 2021 from blunt force trauma that left him with multiple internal injuries, according to the state medical examiner.

Sylus’ mother, Desiree Newbert, said she reported to the Department of Health and Human Services that Melvin threatened to kill the family including her, Sylus, and her daughter, but that a caseworker never returned her call or visited the family. Melvin had been previously charged multiple times with domestic violence.

Former state Sen. Bill Diamond accused the agency of “leaving vulnerable children in dangerous situations despite repeated warnings by family members and others that children are not safe.” The family had multiple caseworkers, and none of them compared notes with each other, Diamond said.

The infant’s death was one of several dozen flagged by the Office of Children and Family Services, part of the Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services.

DHHS had visited Melvin and Newbert starting in 2018 when she had her first child, according to a memo released this week that chronicles the family’s interactions with the agency.

When Sylus was born in 2021, DHHS opened an investigation into his safety because of his exposure to his mother’s medication used to treat substance abuse disorder, according to the memo. Doctors and other health care providers saw Sylus multiple times, including two days before his death, with no note of injuries.


This story has been corrected to show the victim was 1 month old, not 1 year old.

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