For years, a South Bend father doled out severe punishment to his young sons.
Today, the tables were turned.
It was 36 year old Terry Sturgis who was punished for the beating death of his 10 year old son Tramelle and acts of abuse on his other children.
In passing sentence, the judge said the family home bordered on a “torture chamber.”
Terry Sturgis received an aggregate sentence of 140 years in prison. The judge noted that, even with good credit, Sturgis would have to live to age 104 to be released.
“There’s no justice, there is no justice for what happened to my nephew,” said Kimberly Townsend, the aunt of Tramelle Sturgis. “He (Terry Sturgis) had all of my family fooled, he had his friends fooled, he had his family fooled, we thought for a long time that Terry was a good father.”
Today in court, Sturgis’ teenaged son testified how humiliating it was to go to school bruised, and have to offer excuses that “didn’t make any sense.”
The boy also told the court that he now had a “second life,” and didn’t have anything to be scared of anymore.
Terry Sturgis’ youngest son testified at trail, but not during today’s sentencing hearing.
“All of them are heroes because they came out and finally spoke up and said stuff that they weren't telling us and they finally came out and had the courage to speak up on their behalf and I think that was, I know that was because of Tramelle giving them that strength and courage to speak up,” said Townsend.
Tramelle’s memory was kept alive at today’s sentencing hearing. One relative wore a t-shirt that featured a reproduction of a painting that Tramelle did.
Several other relatives, including Tramelle’s mother, wore t-shirts that read, “Stop child abuse.”
“If it’s going on in your home, if it’s happening somewhere, speak up, tell somebody, tell somebody, and as much as we loved him and hugged on him and could give him all the support he still was too afraid to tell us when it was happening,” said Townsend.
At today’s hearing, Tramelle’s mother offered tearful testimony about picking up Tramelle’s last report card, before picking up the boy’s death certificate.
She told Terry Sturgis “May God have mercy on you, because I never will.”
When offered a chance to make an apology, Terry Sturgis largely made excuses for his behavior, saying he “wasn’t himself” the night in question, and that he was using street drugs and alcohol.
The judge cut Sturgis’ statement short, saying the abuse had gone on long before the night Tramelle died, and that Terry Sturgis did what he did with brutality, regularity, and even “enjoyment.”