Man learns fate for killing toddler

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A child’s death shocked the community and now, the man behind it is going to prison. The three-year-old boy was left to die at a home on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation.

Justin Crouse was given a 21-year sentence Friday for first-degree manslaughter, for beating his girlfriend’s son and leaving his body for his mother to find.

The mother of three-year-old Gage Seneca couldn’t hold back her emotions in the courtroom Friday morning, after her 30-year-old ex-boyfriend, Justin Crouse, was given the sentence.

Prosecutors say Crouse violently hit the child in the head after finding him out of bed. He then put the toddler back to bed, and went to sleep. It wasn’t until Gage’s mother went into his bedroom the next morning that she found his small, lifeless body.

Both prosecutors and Crouse’s attorney said in court Friday morning that Crouse has shown no remorse for his actions.

The victim’s uncle Nate John said, “All the things we were supposed to do with him, we can’t do anymore. Camping, fishing, sliding. It’s all gone now.”

John said, “This heinous and despicable act has left a great void in our family.”

When Judge Penny Wolfgang asked Crouse if he would like to make a statement, he said no.

Wolfgang said, “The one thing we must repeat is that no matter how many times you say to probation, or to court, or to your lawyers, or yourself that this was an accident; it was not.”

Crouse had been arrested nine other times on minor charges. Judge Wolfgang told Crouse he needed to be away from society for a significant amount of time to learn that physical violence is not an acceptable way of dealing with conflicts, especially with a defenseless child.

Gage’s family was visibly upset with Crouse’s sentence, hoping for the maximum of 25 years in prison. Crouse will also have five years post-release supervision. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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