Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
Muldoon Pleads Guilty to Lesser Charges, Key Witness Allegedly on Drugs
By Trish Mehaffey and Dave Franzman
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Lee Muldoon has pleaded guilty to two lesser charges, involuntary manslaughter and neglect of a child, with a possible sentence of no more than 10-years running together.
Muldoon, 25, of Coggon, was facing a first degree murder charge in the death of his former girlfriend's daughter, 2-year-old Skylar Inman, back in July of 2008. She died from blunt force injuries to her abdomen.
The guilty pleas resulted because Brianna Volesky, the mother of the murdered girl, was supposed to be a key witness and was expected to testify on Thursday.
But First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks, outside of the presence of the jury, told the court Thursday there may be evidence that Brianna Volesky has been using drugs and might not be a credible witness to put on the stand.
Several days ago, Brianna's grandmother Karen Volesky, testified that Brianna was not on drugs currently. But a search warrant executed last week discovered drug evidence, including syringes, at the home of Karen Volesky. The search warrant was actually issued for a different woman, but Brianna Volesky may live there.
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." The assistant county attorney believes that may be a warning to conceal signs of possible drug use.
Brianna pleaded guilty to lesser charges earlier this year in her daughter's death and was required to testify against defendant Lee Muldoon. Her testimony was expected Thursday.
Maybanks told the court based on information he learned Wednesday night from investigators that could be a possible case of perjury.
The prosecutor said he had a duty to bring this up because he couldn't knowingly allow someone to go on the stand a lie, or to allow someone who might be under the influence to testify in a criminal case.
That prompted several hours of discussion which resulted in the guilty pleas.
The Muldoon family members declined comment as they were leaving the courthouse, but Johnston said his family has always and continue to believe in his innocence.
"They're disappointed he's not walking out of here," Tyler Johnston, Muldoon's attorney said. "Todd (Weimer, Muldoon's other attorney), our investigator and I always believed in Lee Muldoon's innocence. It's heartbreaking for us but a far better possibility than for Lee to spend the rest of his life in prison." (Watch a full interview with Johnston below.)
Johnston said Thursday was the first time First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks offered this plea agreement. With the information that came in Thursday morning, Johnston thought it was a good time to discuss a way to resolve this.
"We've know about her involvement with methamphetamine dating back to 2009," Johnston said. "She was purchasing excessive amounts of pseudoephedrine."
Maybanks declined to make a statement but is expected to later on Thursday. There is no information at this time on Volesky and what this will mean about her plea agreement in the case.
Volesky pleaded to neglect of a child and child endangerment and the plea was contingent upon her testimony against Muldoon. The child endangerment charge was to be dropped if she testified.
Johnston said 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."
Johnston said Judge Marsha Bergan accepted the "binding nature" of the plea agreement between he and Maybanks, in which both charges will run concurrently for a 10-year sentence. Otherwise, it would be 15 years.
Johnston estimated that Muldoon could possibly serve the minimum of four and a half years in prison, depending on good time credit earned.
Watch Reaction to Muldoon Guilty Pleas:
Aubrey Coder, Brianna Volesky's sister
Deneil Inman, Skylar Inman's paternal grandmother
Tyler Johnston, Muldoon's attorney
Replay Thursday's Coverage: