A 25-year-old Rockland man sentenced last month to 16 years in prison for manslaughter in connection with the August 2008 death of his 9-week-old daughter has appealed his prison sentence.

The appeal was filed Jan. 15 on behalf of Robert E. Harford Jr. by his attorney Steven Peterson of Rockport. The appeal goes to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Peterson argued that Harford’s manslaughter case did not warrant such an excessive sentence. Justice Jeffrey Hjelm sentenced Harford to 25 years but suspended nine years.

The defense attorney argued that the state did not seek such a lengthy basic sentence. The prosecution asked for a basic 20-year sentence with all but 17 years suspended.

Peterson also said the judge did not take into consideration the mitigating factors such as Harford cooperating with investigators and agreeing to plead guilty to spare the families a protracted trial, his remorse, and his minimal record.

Peterson also cited two similar manslaughter cases in which people were convicted in the death of young children but received less prison time. One case cited by Peterson was that of Harold M. Clarke who was sentenced in 1998 to 15 years in prison with all but nine years suspended for manslaughter in connection with the November 1994 beating death in Rockland of 4-year-old Deanna Marie Wadsworth. Peterson represented Clarke in that case.

Peterson also cited a case outside Knox County in which the person convicted of manslaughter of a child received a basic sentence of 15 years.

Harford was originally charged with murder but agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter.

Police reports said Harford admitted to throwing baby Ava Gushee to the kitchen floor on Aug. 17, 2008, in Rockland because he was frustrated with her crying. The state contends he then shook the baby and her head may have struck the kitchen counter.

The autopsy also revealed that the child had been healing from prior injuries before this incident. The cause of those injuries was unknown.