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Detroit — A father angry at the man convicted for beating to death his 3-year-old daughter jumped over a protective barrier in a courtroom Thursday and punched the defendant, sending spectators scrambling.

The toddler’s father attacked Clifford Daniel Thomas, who was about to be sentenced in the death of his girlfriend’s daughter. Jasmine Gordon, the child’s mother, was also convicted in the child’s death.

Thomas was babysitting Jasmine Gordon’s young daughter, Jamilia, and son while she was at work in September 2014. Little Jamilia was taken to Henry Ford Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival on Sept. 18. Doctors saw she had bruises and her head and chest showed signs of physical abuse.

The drama inside the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice courtroom was captured by a WDIV-TV Local 4 cameraman. No charges have been filed against the father but he was removed from the courtroom and detained.

The commotion caused Wayne County Circuit Judge Margaret Van Houten to halt the sentencing proceedings and resume them about an hour later.

Gordon, 25, was sentenced to 14-25 years in prison for first-degree child abuse, as an aider and abettor, and 7-15 years for involuntary manslaughter. The mother’s sentences will run concurrently.

Thomas, 34, received 57 months to 15 years on a conviction of involuntary manslaughter and one to two years for resisting and obstructing a police officer.

Before being sentenced, Gordon pleaded with the judge in an emotional, gut-wrenching manner to spare her a lengthy prison sentence and give her jail time or extended probation for the death of Jamilia.

Gordon cried and pleaded nearly 30 minutes and told Van Houten how distraught she was over losing her only daughter.

“I did the best I could as a mother. I did everything I could to provide for them and keep them safe,” said Gordon, crying hard with her attorney by her side. “To this day I feel like I am living somebody else’s nightmare.”

But in sentencing Gordon, the judge reminded her that she told police in a videotaped statement that she didn’t take her sick daughter to the police because she feared her children would be taken away from her.

“I don’t know how you didn’t know your daughter was being abused,” said Van Houten.

Gordon apologized to Jamilia’s father for the loss “of his baby girl ... our baby girl.”

Debora McAdoo, the child’s paternal grandmother, told the judge during the witness impact portion of the sentencing hearing that Gordon was a “horrible” mother and made a mistake by having a “stranger” babysit her children.

“She could have brought my son’s daughter to him,” said McAdoo, the mother of Jamilia’s father. “This was my only grandchild.”

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Lora Weingarden said Thomas caused the child’s death, saying he was aware of the child’s life-long illness. Weingarden said Gordon “aided and abetted” her boyfriend in allowing the abuse of which had tragic results which ended in the death of the child.

Thomas apologized to the family saying he didn’t “have a clue” what was going on with the child.

“I didn’t know (her condition) was that severe,” said Thomas.

McAdoo apologized for her son’s actions in court Thursday saying “he really didn’t mean” what he did.

“The poor children suffered plenty,” said Weingarden, “I hope that your sentence sends a message to this community that this can’t go on that mothers will be held accountable and if their boyfriends are abusing their children they’re going to be in big trouble for it.”

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027

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