CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Sixth Judicial District Judge Marsha Bergan today sentenced Lee Muldoon to five years for involuntary manslaughter and 10 years for neglect of a child in the death of his former girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter in 2008.
The two sentences will run concurrently, for a total of 10 years.
Muldoon, 25, of Coggon, pleaded guilty in August during his first-degree murder trial. He pleaded guilty to lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter and neglect of a child in the death of Skyler Inman, the daughter of his former girlfriend, Brianna Volesky.
Skylar died of blunt force injuries to her abdomen.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Sean McPartland sentenced Brianna Volesky to 10 years on the neglect of the child charge and five years for involuntary manslaughter but they will run concurrently for a total of 10 years in prison.
Volesky declined to speak during the sentencing but her attorney, Julie Trachta, spoke on her behalf. Trachta painted a stark contrast to what Muldoon and his attorney said about Volesky being manipulative and abusive.
Trachta said Volesky was "vilified and trashed" by Muldoon's attorney but she wanted the judge to consider that Volesky was never charged with homicide in this case, as Muldoon.
Trachta asked the court for a suspended sentence with specific orders for her to get drug treatment – the help she needs.
Volesky has made some errors in judgment along the way but she has been "reliving this" for two years now, Trachta said. Volesky regrets moving Skylar into Muldoon's home.
"She is a young mother who was easily influenced," Trachta said. "Brianna was subjected to Muldoon's aggression and control. But of course, Skylar paid the ultimate price."
Trachta said there wasn't any abuse of Skylar until Volesky moved in with Muldoon. The defense attempted to retry the case today but Volesky was never charged with abuse. She was charged for "not stepping up" and protecting her daughter, she said.
Volesky started having drug problems after Skylar died and during the time she and Muldoon were arrested. Her pre trial conditions of release were revoked because her actions were misconsued. Volesky was going to get drug treatment but didn't tell anyone. She wasn't attempting to flee.
"This young woman has been through more in her life than most of us," Trachta said. "But she's here to take responsibility for this."
Before his sentencing, Muldoon read an emotional statement.
Muldoon said he knew nothing he could say today would change what happened to Skylar, but he wanted the judge to understand why he pleaded guilty.
Muldoon said he never hurt Skylar and "Brianna, my family and her family and God knows that."
"I am guilty for not saving Skylar and saving her from an abusive mother," Muldoon said. "I wished I would have known about Brianna. I believe if I had, I wouldn't be here today."
"I wish Skylar was here today," Muldoon continued as his voice shook and he started tearing up. "I loved Skylar like my own daughter."
Muldoon said he wished the police hadn't thought he was guilty. He claimed the bruises started showing up on Skylar about a month after she and her mother moved in with him. The bruises started appearing when Volesky started taking care of her daughter on her own without help from others, as she had received in the past, he said.
"I know words won't bring her back," Muldoon said. "I want to apologize to my family, friends, my investigator and lawyers. And I want to thank the jury."
Muldoon said he took the plea agreement because he was worried he might have been found guilty for child endangerment causing death, which carried a 50-year sentence.
"Fifty years in prison is something I couldn't do ... I want to move on from this," he said.