Christopher Conley gets 16 to 18 years for attempted murder 

  • Christopher Conley, who was found guilty last week of attempted murder and other charges in the poisoning of his daughter, acknowledges people he knows in the courtroom during his sentencing in Hampshire Superior Court on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Christopher Conley, who was found guilty of attempted murder, acknowledges people he knows in the courtroom during his sentencing in Hampshire Superior Court on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The foster mother of the child who Christopher Conley was found guilty of attempted murder reads a victim impact statement to Judge Richard Carey during Conley's sentencing in Hampshire Superior Court on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Christopher Conley, who was found guilty of attempted murder, acknowledges people he knows in the courtroom during his sentencing in Hampshire Superior Court on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Christopher Conley listens as the foster mother of the child who Conley was found guilty of attempted murder reads a victim impact statement to Judge Richard Carey during Conley's sentencing in Hampshire Superior Court on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Christopher Conley, who was found guilty of attempted murder, listens as his lawyer, Mark Bluver asked the court to balance “compassion with retribution,” during Conley's sentencing in Hampshire Superior Court on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The foster mother of the child who Christopher Conley was found guilty of attempted murder reads a victim impact statement to Judge Richard Carey during Conley's sentencing in Hampshire Superior Court on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne and Assistant District Attorney Linda Pisano speak after the sentencing of Christopher Conley in Hampshire Superior Court on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Christopher Conley’s daughter’s adoptive mother reads a victim impact statement to Judge Richard Carey in Hampshire Superior Court on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 2/24/2020 3:00:21 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A Northampton man found guilty of trying to murder his sick 7-year-old daughter in 2015 by injecting her with drain cleaner and overdosing her on painkillers was sentenced to 16 to 18 years in prison on Monday.

Christopher Conley, 37, was sentenced in Hampshire Superior Court after a jury found him guilty on Friday on three counts: attempted murder, assault and battery on a child by means of a dangerous weapon (opiates), and assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury. The sentencing came after an almost three-week trial that heard testimony from medical professionals, members of law enforcement and Conley himself.

The jury had found Conley guilty of injecting Liquid-Plumr through a medical device in the girl’s intestines on April 15, 2015, and then overdosing her on painkillers. Doctors had to remove over 6 feet of her intestines and a third of her bladder in successive surgeries. She was discharged from the hospital in February 2016.

The girl’s adoptive mother, whom the district attorney’s office declined to name, read a victim impact statement before the sentencing. She said that the girl, now 12, sees a therapist weekly to cope with the physical and emotional damage her family caused her.

“She continues to deal with the unknown: the unknown of why this was done with her, the unknown of what she will have to face in the future, the unknown of whether her reproductive organs have been damaged and whether she will ever be able to have children of her own,” she said.

The adoptive mother went on to say that the significant internal damage the girl suffered has led to problems with her bowels and anxiety that her organs will fail. The girl has to constantly monitor every bite of food she eats to make sure it doesn’t irritate her digestive tract and has suffered bullying and embarrassment for the way her body now functions, she said.

“She now lives with multiple physical and emotional scars,” the adoptive mother said. “She will live with these scars for the rest of her life.”

Describing Conley’s actions as “nothing short of barbaric,” Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Linda Pisano recommended that the court hand him a sentence of 18 to 20 years.

Defense attorney Mark Bluver asked the court to balance “compassion with retribution.” He said that Conley, like anyone, is “redeemable,” and asked for a 7½-year sentence in the county jail.

In sentencing Conley, Judge Richard Carey said that Conley’s actions justified a sentence harsher than the state’s sentencing guidelines call for.

“The intentional and horrific acts of the defendant on April 15, 2015, require a significant and upward departure from the sentencing guidelines so as to arrive at a true and just verdict and sentence in this case,” Carey said.

Carey sentenced Conley to 16 to 18 years in prison on the charge of attempted murder. On the charge of assault and battery on a child by means of a dangerous weapon, Carey gave Conley 12 to 14 years, to be served concurrently. For the charge of assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury, Carey handed down a sentence of 12 to 14 years, also to be served concurrently.

Citing Conley’s lack of prior criminal record, Carey issued a non-binding recommendation to the Department of Corrections that Conley be allowed to serve the sentence at the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction. Conley was given time served for the 891 days he has already spent incarcerated for the offenses prior to his conviction.

Pisano, who also heads the district attorney’s Child Abuse Unit, told reporters after the hearing that prosecutors were “incredibly happy that the jury saw fit to hand down some justice in this case.” She said she hoped the sentence sends a message to others that they can’t harm their kids.

“I am grateful to Judge Carey for his thoughtful consideration of the case and the sentence he handed down,” Pisano said.

Conley’s ex-wife, Julie Conley, has pleaded not guilty to assault and battery charges related to her daughter and her trial begins March 9, according to the Northwestern district attorney’s office.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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