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Army combat vet gets 44 years in prison after beating death of 4-month-old

An Army combat veteran was sentenced Tuesday to 44 years in prison in the death of a 4-month-old girl, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.

Branden Keith Harms, who served as a cavalry scout with the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, was charged with first-degree murder and child abuse in May 2016.

The former private was home alone with his girlfriend’s 4-month-old daughter in April 2016. When the mother returned home, she realized her baby needed medical attention, the Gazette reported last year

Doctors discovered the 4-month-old had bruises on her head, side and buttocks, along with a healing rib fracture and two brain bleeds, according to the Gazette. 

Harms originally said he accidentally dropped the infant into her crib, but the injuries proved to be inconsistent with his account.

According to the newspaper, the district judge said Harms’ “loss of control” was an “act of brutality.”

Harms pleaded guilty to the charges and said he still asks himself what happened and why, the Gazette reported.

Harms’ attorney, public defender Nathan Ojanen, said post traumatic stress was involved in the former soldier’s actions, the Gazette reported.  

He joined the Army in November 2009 and separated in January, with deployments to Afghanistan from October 2011 to July 2012 and to Kuwait for five months in 2015.

Harms’ awards include an Army Commendation Medal, three Army Achievement Medals and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars.

Charlsy Panzino covers the Guard and Reserve, training, technology, operations and features for Army Times and Air Force Times. Email her at cpanzino@militarytimes.com.  

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