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Abilene babysitter receives 8 year sentence after pleading guilty to shaking baby

By Ariana Garza, agarza@ktxs.com
Published On: Aug 30 2013 01:11:44 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 30 2013 02:07:51 PM CDT
Kara Galinak

Kara Galinak, 33, of Abilene, pleaded guilty during May 2013 to reckless injury to a child after she allegedly shook 3-month-old Austin Westbrook while babysitting.

ABILENE, Texas -

Kara Galinak, 33, was sentenced to eight years in prison Friday after pleading guilty to shaking a baby.

Galinak received the sentence in the 42nd District Court under Judge John Weeks.

Galinak was arrested Sept. 20, 2011 for shaking 3-month-old Austin Westbrook and throwing him onto a couch. She pleaded guilty in an open plea in May. 

The prosecution presented three witnesses, including Austin's mother, Jennifer, the police officer who questioned Galinak immediately after the incident and the surgeon who worked with Austin at Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth. 

The surgeon testified that Austin has suffered severe brain damage that surgery cannot fix and that he thinks Austin "will always be behind."

Jennifer testified that Austin was stricken blind for six months after the incident and still has trouble seeing out of his left eye. 

Her defense attorneys presented several of Galinak's close friends and family members as witnesses. They testified Galinak would do well under community supervision or under probation as opposed to serving prison time. They testified they believed the September 2011 incident was an isolated one.

Galinak's psychotherapist Dr. Marc Orner was also called to testify. He testified Galinak understood what she had done since their first counseling session in November 2011 and "still feels guilty to this day;" however, she should not be allowed to be around children as a precaution.

Galinak cried throughout the morning proceedings and testified "I just picked him up and I shook him, I don't know why, I don't know why, I never hurt a kid at all." She also asked the Westbrook family for forgiveness. She said she was stressed and overwhelmed leading up to the incident and shook Austin after she realized she could not get him to stop crying.