AUGUSTA — A young father who admitted shaking his crying infant in a moment of frustration, leaving the baby’s brain damaged and later sparking a debate about parental rights, has pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault and will serve up to seven years in prison.

Kevin M. Peaslee, 22, of Windsor, entered the guilty plea Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court. He shook his infant daughter, Aleah M. Peaslee, so violently last year that her injuries prompted the state to seek a do-not-resuscitate order over her mother’s objections. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court later dismissed an appeal of the order after the LePage administration said it would not enforce the do-not-resuscitate order.

Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy accepted a plea deal that caps Peaslee’s maximum sentence at 10 years, with all but seven years suspended, to be followed by 12 years of probation.

At a hearing scheduled for November, Peaslee will make his case to serve less than seven years in prison.

Reading a written statement from the defendant and his parents, Peaslee’s attorney, James Lawley, said that “a split-second mistake has destroyed three lives — Aleah’s, her mother’s and Kevin’s.” Lawley said Peaslee “loves his daughter and he has accepted responsibility for what happened to her.”

“Whatever punishment the court imposes will not change the sorrow and remorse and blame that Kevin will carry with him the whole of his life,” Lawley said.


Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Friday that Aleah can’t see, can’t hear, is a quadriplegic who has frequent seizures and is “in pain 24/7,” Maloney said.

Those injuries will cause Aleah to “die prematurely” and “she will never be able to function beyond an early infantile level,” according to a legal brief filed earlier this year by Assistant Attorney General Nora Sosnoff, representing the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court was scheduled to weigh in on the baby’s fate until the Maine Department of Health and Human Services dropped its effort to have the do-not-resuscitate order imposed in September.

The baby is now 16 months old and living in a foster home, according to court filings. Aleah was 6 months old when she was rushed to the hospital Dec. 21, 2013, with injuries consistent with being shaken.

Aleah’s mother, Virginia Trask, then 17, was at work at the time, and Kevin Peaslee was with the child in the family’s apartment on Augusta’s Capitol Street. He was driving with the baby in the car when city police pulled him over for failing to stop at a stop sign. An officer saw the baby was in distress and took them to a nearby fire station for medical help.

After that, the baby was hospitalized. In court Friday, Fernand LaRochelle, a deputy district attorney, said Peaslee initially told police that he had lost his grip on the baby while holding her, but eventually told a doctor at Maine Medical Center in Portland that he had shaken her because he had “lost it” because of her crying.


Kevin Peaslee was indicted in January on two counts of aggravated assault and one count of assault. He has been free on bail since Jan. 29, the same day Aleah was released from the hospital.

Attorney Scott Hess, who represented the mother in her efforts to oppose the do-not-resuscitate order, said earlier this week that he had no comment on the case and could not say whether Virginia Trask had been visiting her daughter.

Sosnoff’s brief says the child spent 11 days in a coma and physicians then planned to remove her breathing tube. DHHS, the parents, other family members, friends, social workers and doctors all agreed at that time to the do-not-resuscitate order, which was granted April 24 by Augusta District Court.

The district court judge found that “neither parent can be counted on to be physically or emotionally available to make the necessary informed decision when needed” for Aleah, according to Sosnoff.

However, when Aleah unexpectedly continued breathing on her own, the parents revoked their support of the order, Sosnoff noted. Trask appealed the order, and the case was headed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court for a hearing. But on Sept. 5, after the case made national news, Gov. Paul LePage and Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew said they agreed with Trask that the mother should be able to make do-not-resuscitate decisions, overruling previous efforts by Mayhew’s office and the Maine attorney general’s office to enforce the order.

As a result, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court dismissed the case last month.


Peaslee, now of Windsor, is free under bail conditions that ban him from contact with Aleah and her mother.

Under bail conditions approved by Murphy on Friday, though, Peaslee will be allowed to have contact with Trask once she notifies the district attorney’s office in writing. Lawley wouldn’t say if the two are in a relationship, but he said that they want to have contact.

Maloney said the case highlights the need for new parents to call for help if they feel incapable of caring for their children, saying “it’s really sad that it came to this” in Aleah’s case.

“She was a healthy child,” Maloney said, “and children cry.”

Comments are no longer available on this story