An East Side man convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his 4-month-old daughter has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Evan E. Lee, 23, drew the sentence Monday from Judge John M. Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, who found him guilty of the manslaughter charge and of one count of child endangering after a nonjury trial last week.
Lee originally was charged with murder, felonious assault, and two counts of child endangering in the May 13, 2013, death of his daughter, Ila Lee, in their Woodside Avenue home.
The manslaughter charge was a lesser included offense in the murder charge.
Judge Durkin acquitted Lee of murder, of felonious assault and of a second child-endangering count after the three-day bench trial that occurred after Lee waived his right to a jury trial.
“The catastrophic injuries that she sustained as a result of defendant’s actions ended her life,” said Rebecca Doherty, chief of the criminal division in the county prosecutor’s office, who prosecuted the case.
Calling Lee “deceptive,” Doherty cited the multiple versions of events leading to Ila’s death, which Lee gave as the case was being investigated.
Doherty asked the judge to impose 11 years in prison, the maximum sentence for the manslaughter.
Had Lee been convicted of murder, he would have faced 15 years to life in prison.
The baby’s maternal grandmother, Tamika Haywood, and mother, Thomasina Haywood, told the judge an 11-year sentence was unwarranted because Lee tried to resuscitate his daughter and already had suffered enough from her death.
“He has to live with it every day of his life,” Thomasina Haywood said of Lee.
A doctor who treated the baby at St. Elizabeth Health Center said her fatal brain injuries were caused by “violent whiplash shaking,” but a forensic pathologist testifying for the defense said there were no marks and no evidence on the baby’s torso to suggest someone held and shook her.
The Summit County Coroner’s Office ruled Ila’s death a homicide due to complications of blunt-force trauma to her head.
The judge noted that Ila suffered eye, scalp, throat, chest and arm injuries.
Judge Durkin said Ila clearly was abused, but he didn’t know when or where, or who inflicted the abuse.
The judge convicted Lee of involuntary manslaughter because he said Lee recklessly caused his daughter’s death as a result of endangering her.
Judge Durkin said he did not believe Lee intentionally caused his daughter’s death.
However, during the sentencing hearing, Judge Durkin said he needed to send a message that people caring for those who can’t care for themselves are responsible for the well-being of those in their care.
Lee did not address the judge during the sentencing hearing.
Lee’s lawyer, Douglas King, told the judge Lee has no prior criminal record. After court, King said an appeal will be filed.