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Md. dad who killed adopted son sentenced to 12 years in prison

The Montgomery County Circuit Court is shown in this July 2015 WTOp file photo. Brian O'Callaghan of Damascus, Maryland, faces a 40-year prison sentence for killing his three-year-old adopted son. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Brian O’Callaghan, the former Marine and National Security Agency division chief, who pleaded guilty to killing his 3-year-old adopted son, was sentenced to 12 years in prison by a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge.

O’Callaghan, of Damascus, Maryland, pleaded guilty last November to child abuse resulting in death and faced up to 40 years in prison. On Tuesday, Judge John Debelius handed down a 20-year sentence but suspended eight years from O’Callaghan’s sentence upfront. He will also get credit for time served — about 2 and 1/2 years.

In addition, O’Callaghan must serve three years of supervised probation.

The sentencing hearing lasted all day and included testimony from O’Callaghan’s former colleagues who said he told them he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from his overseas deployments and other mental health issues. The defense entered into evidence O’Callaghan’s medical records, which show the defendant was being treated for PTSD and depression, among other mental health issues, for several years starting in 2009.

O’Callaghan’s lawyer said he served in Iraq and was involved in the rescue of Army POW Jessica Lynch in 2003.

However, prosecutors said O’Callaghan hid his mental health issues during the adoption process.

O’Callaghan and his wife adopted 3-year-old Hyunsu from South Korea in 2013, according to court documents. On Tuesday, prosecutors said O’Callaghan deliberately deceived adoption agency officials by not disclosing his PTSD diagnosis — and even stopped taking medication in order to mask the presence of drugs used to treat PTSD — so the 2013 adoption would go through.

In February 2014, just months after being adopted, the toddler was brought to the hospital suffering from broken bones, internal bleeding and a skull fracture. O’Callaghan did not seek medical treatment for the boy until about 5 hours after the abuse took place, prosecutors told the judge.

The boy died two days later. Initially, O’Callaghan told Montgomery County police the toddler sustained his injuries after falling in the shower.

O’Callaghan was charged in March 2014 with first-degree murder. But as part of a plea deal, O’Callaghan agreed to plead guilty to abusing the toddler resulting in the boy’s death, and prosecutors agreed to drop the more serious charge.

At one point, Judge Debelius addressed O’Callaghan, saying, “You beat this child to death. It was horrible. For [his] sake, I hope it was quick.”

O’Callaghan, who cried quietly as the defense and prosecution detailed the child’s extensive external and internal injuries, apologized, saying “(Hyunsu) was not safe with me. I robbed him of his life.”

Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for the Montgomery County state’s attorney’s office, said that justice was served. “Today, there is no celebrating,” he said. “There are no winners in this sentencing hearing. Anytime a child dies at the hands of his dad, as Hyunsu O’Callaghan did, it’s a tragedy.”

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