ANDERSON — The father of 18-month-old Harlan Haines and his maternal grandfather gave emotional statements during Dylan Tate's sentence hearing on Tuesday.
Madison County Circuit Court 1 Judge Angela Warner Sims said Harlan was a defenseless child who suffered a "slow and torturous death" at the hands of his mother's boyfriend in February 2018.
Sims sentenced Tate to life without parole for Harlan's murder.
Jackie Haines, Harlan's father, said he repeatedly imagined what he would say to Tate once given the opportunity, but found himself thrown off guard by Tate's "smirk" during his statement.
"Words can't explain the nightmare we live every single day - not just myself, but my family, and Harlan's family and everyone involved in his life," Haines said. "We are stuck on repeat over and over. It's something we have to live with."
He talked about wanting to take justice into his own hands for the death of his son and how it was difficult to wait for the state to prosecute Tate for the murder.
"The blood you spilled on your hands is my blood," Haines told Tate.
Harlan's grandfather, James Harris, talked about feeling uneasy around Tate before the murder and how Harlan's death destroyed his daughter's life.
"I can't do nothing for my grandson," Harris said. "I should have protected him."
Look for more on the sentencing hearing in Wednesday editions and at heraldbulletin.com.