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Assistant Linn Co. Attorney Explains Reasons for Muldoon Plea Agreement
By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said Thursday the plea agreement made to Lee Muldoon was a difficult decision.
"I've carried this case with me for two years and had a baby girl in the middle of this," Maybanks said looking down at a photo of 2-year-old Skylar Inman on his desk. "I've come to care about this little girl. I've shed tears over her."
But he had an ethical duty to let the court know Thursday of a possible case of perjury involving his primary witness Brianna Volesky and drug use, which led to his decision to offer the plea agreement.
Muldoon, 25, of Coggon, accused of killing 2-year-old Skylar Inman, his ex-girlfriend Brianna Volesky's daughter July 11, 2008, was charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death. He pleaded guilty Thursday to neglect of a child and involuntary manslaughter, which would carry a 15 year sentence.
Maybanks in the plea agreement recommended running the charges concurrently for a total of 10 years in prison. Muldoon's sentencing is set Oct. 21.
Brianna Volesky in January pleaded guilty to neglect of a child, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment causing death, in accordance with a plea agreement made by Maybanks. The agreement was contingent upon her testimony against Muldoon.
Maybanks in the plea agreement was to drop the child endangerment charge if she testified.
Maybanks said Thursday he hasn't made a decision at this point but charges against Brianna Volesky could change before her sentencing Sept. 8.
"Everything is still under consideration," Maybanks said.
Maybanks, who never said he charged the wrong person in this crime, pointed out that not all the evidence and witnesses were heard. The prosecution wasn't scheduled to wrap up its case until next week.
Maybanks said he informed the court because he found out Wednesday night by police that Brianna Volesky was using drugs.
Her grandmother Karen Volesky testified Tuesday in an offer of proof, which the jury didn't hear because it could only be used in an appeal, that her granddaughter wasn't using drugs.
In Maybanks' court statement Thursday he said a search warrant was executed Friday at Karen Volesky's home in Swisher for Kay Koss, also known as Kay Inman.
Inman was in an "ongoing relationship" with Brianna Volesky and was living with her grandmother, according to the statement.
During the search, investigators heard Karen Volesky call Brianna on the phone and tell her "to wear long sleeves while the search warrant was being executed." Maybanks believed that warning was to conceal signs of possible drug use.
He didn't inform the court until Thursday because on Friday the search warrant was executed in connection with a copper wire theft. Linn County Sheriff's Det. Kent Steenblock told him Wednesday night about the recovery of syringes and needles.
"We've know about her involvement with methamphetamine dating back to 2009," Tyler Johnston, Muldoon's attorney, said after the pleading. "She was purchasing excessive amounts of pseudoephedrine.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Marsha Bergan ruled during the trial that Brianna's drug usage wasn't relevant because it occurred after Skylar's death.
Karen Volesky testified Brianna was a loving mother and Johnston wanted to get the possible perjury into the record in the event of an appeal, which would question her overall credibility.
Johnston said after the pleading Muldoon didn't abuse Skylar. It was Volesky who was beating her.
"He (Muldoon) didn't see the signs," Johnston said. "Lee understands he should have seen what was happening but never believed that Brianna was capable of that. He was a young kid in love.
"Lee always admitted responsibility of failing to protect Skylar," Johnston continued. "He thinks about it every day."
Muldoon's family members declined to comment but Johnston said they always and continue to believe he is innocent.
"It's heartbreaking for us but a far better possibility than for Lee to spend the rest of his life in prison," Johnston said.
Maybanks said in response "what's heartbreaking is that Skylar paid the ultimate price."