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Couple pleads no contest in 2008 death of son
Andrew Christopher Paffendorf and Alicia Renee Paffendorf - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Andrew Christopher Paffendorf, 31, of Modesto, was sentenced last week to 11 years in state prison following his no contest plea to the 2008 voluntary manslaughter of his toddler son.

His wife, Alicia Renee Paffendorf, 31, also entered a no contest plea to felony child abuse and will be sentenced on Nov. 29.

As part of a negotiated settlement, Andrew Paffendorf agreed to give up over 3½ years of custody credits in order to avoid more serious charges. Voluntary manslaughter is considered a "strike" offense under California's Three Strikes Law.

Alicia Paffendorf's case has been referred to the Stanislaus County Probation Department for a report.

Deputy District Attorney Merrill Hoult prosecuted the case.

In 2008, Andrew and Alicia Paffendorf were married and living with their 16-month-old son, Andrew Paffendorf Jr., in the 3600 block of Crows Landing Road west of Ceres. On Dec. 2, 2008, the Paffendorfs called 911 after Andrew Paffendorf found his son was unresponsive. The child died about an hour later at the hospital. During an autopsy, a forensic pathologist discovered that the child sustained several injuries including multiple healing rib fractures, trauma to his abdomen, a fractured right femur, and extensive bruising all over his body. The pathologist determined that the child died as a result of blunt force injuries to his abdomen and head.

During an interview with a Sheriff's Department detective, Andrew Paffendorf admitted physically abusing the child several weeks before his death. His wife also told a detective that she had seen him act abusively toward the baby a few weeks earlier. She admitted knowing that the baby was injured and that she failed to call law enforcement or seek assistance for the child.

Mr. Paffendorf's mother said her son suffered from anger, depression and severe mental illness and tried to kill himself after his son died.

The case was delayed for several years due to extensive investigation by both sides and several changes in attorneys. During that time, Andrew Paffendorf retained experts who disputed that the abuse caused the child's death.