Tuesday, February 05, 2013 7:42 AM
Murder defendant pleads guilty to lesser charges
By Olivia Neeley | Times Staff Writer
In a twist to a case that captured the attention of the Wilson community, Matthew Redance, who was scheduled to stand trial in the death of Alyssia Kirby, pleaded guilty to lesser charges Monday.
The trial was slated to begin with jury selection inside a Wayne County courtroom. If Redance had not entered into a plea arrangement, he would have been tried for the second time on first-degree murder and felony child abuse charges. Redance pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to felony child abuse inflicting serious injury and felony obstruction of justice.
As a part of a sentencing structure, Superior Court Judge Milton F. Fitch Jr. sentenced Redance to roughly 21/2 to 4 years for the accessory after the fact to child abuse charge. Fitch imposed the maximum that he could impose by law under the accessory after the fact to felony child abuse inflicting serious injury. He did so because the maximum was found in the aggravated range. One aggravating factor was that the victim was very young. Redance will be given credit for 16 months time served for that sentence alone. In the obstruction of justice charge, Fitch sentenced Redance to six to eight months in the fair sentencing range, which will run at the end of the first sentence.
Nearly a year ago, Fitch declared a mistrial after a Wilson County jury failed to reach a verdict in the case. The jury deadlocked 11 to 1 in favor of a not guilty verdict after more than three weeks of emotional testimony on both sides. Due to the case being highly publicized, the state filed a motion for the jury to be from another county, which included Wayne County. That motion was granted by a judge in December. On Monday, Wayne County jurors who were summoned for the case were escorted out of the courtroom prior to the plea. They were unaware of what transpired until after the formal proceeding. They were then brought back and Fitch discussed the case and the outcome. He also thanked them for their service.
‘YES, I AM’
At 10 a.m. Monday, Redance stood beside his attorney, Tom Sallenger.
"Do you now plead guilty?” Fitch asked as a part of a standard proceeding entering in a plea arrangement. "Yes, I do,” Redance replied.
"Are you, in fact, guilty?” Fitch continued. "Yes, I am,” Redance replied.
Alyssia’s father, Avery Kirby, watched Redance intensely. Family members were seated with him on the front row of the prosecution side. Neither the 2-year-old’s mother, Angel Kirby Lamm, nor her family members were present during the court proceeding Monday. Lamm pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact of first-degree murder and aiding and abetting child abuse last year. Lamm, who is currently in jail, has not been sentenced on those charges.
Wilson County Assistant District Attorney Charles Thomas gave a summary of case facts first.
‘THEY FAILED; HE FAILED’
During the murder trial last year, the prosecution pointed the finger at Redance, and the defense pointed the finger at the little girl’s mother.
Lamm and Redance were in a relationship at the time of Alyssia’s death and were living together at Thornberry Park apartments in Wilson. Thomas said Alyssia was in the sole custody of Lamm and Redance at the time inside the apartment that was 800 square feet.
Thomas said both were "deceptive” and left out "details” when first questioned by police during the investigation. Lamm and Redance later admitted to various things as the investigation progressed, official said.
"The defendant left out details that he knew were important to what happened to Alyssia,” Thomas told the court. "And he did so with the intent to deceive and defraud investigators ... At the very least, he knew what had happened to this little girl when she died and did not do anything to get immediate or emergency care for her ...”
Thomas continued to tell the court that no matter how anyone looked at this case, a 2-year-old was "tragically killed.”
"She was tragically killed and she died a very, very, very gruesome death,” he said. "And her father who’s sitting behind me has served this country honorably in the highest form and he did so to uphold the rights which we all are afforded in this country and in no place more evident in this courtroom where we sit here today. He will never ever get to see or hold his daughter again.”
Thomas told the court that the state had hoped for other outcomes in the case.
"The defendant will get that opportunity to see other people again and to talk to his family again and possibly hold his children again,” he continued. "He’s at least guilty to what he pled to. Only he and the mother in that 800-square foot apartment know exactly what happened.”
He said children are dependent on their parents or caretakers to look after them.
"They failed,” Thomas said. "He failed. Failing to protect the child is ... the first and highest duty that a parent or supervising adult has and it simply is inexcusable what happened here.”
He said there is nothing that can bring Alyssia back.
"There’s nothing that can put her in her father’s arms again,” Thomas said.
‘SHE WAS MY ONLY REASON FOR LIVING’
Alyssia’s father had an opportunity to address the court Monday. Before he spoke, the pain of losing a child washed over him.
"I’m not going to see my little girl again,” Avery Kirby said, looking at Fitch. "She was my only reason for living, the only thing I loved. To me I just can’t fully accept the plea. I know it’s not my decision, but to me it’s a slap in the face.”
Kirby asked Fitch to give Redance the fullest amount of time when considering sentencing.
"In the end my child was only here for two years and her life isn’t worth but at the most 100 and some months,” he said.
The family was aware of the plea arrangement Monday.
‘HE DID NOT KILL THAT CHILD’
Before Redance was sentenced, Sallenger spoke about Redance’s character.
"He has no prior criminal record,” he said. "He has accepted his responsibilities in this matter.”
Sallenger said according to character witness testimony during the first trial, several people spoke about how Redance was truthful, peaceful and a law-abiding citizen. He also asked the judge to consider Redance’s work history.
Supervised probation could have been an option in Redance’s sentencing.
"He has the support of his family members,” he said. "They care deeply and love Mr. Redance.”
Sallenger said Redance pleaded guilty to two "very significant charges.” He also said that Redance found himself in a situation where he ended up being with someone who "put all of this into motion.”
"He did not kill that child,” Sallenger said.
Sallenger told the court that he understood that Redance could face active sentence on both charges, probation in one charge or active time in another or the court could place him on probation for both.
‘I CAN’T BRING HER BACK’
Redance stood before the court again on Monday. This time he asked Fitch to place him on probation.
"I’m asking the court to please grant me probation,” he said. "I’ve been incarcerated in the Wilson County Jail for 16 months. I was on house arrest for almost 10 months with no violations. I have no prior record.”
He said he was entering into the plea agreement to try to help resolve the case on both sides.
"I am accepting responsibility to what happened to Alyssia after,” he said.
Redance told the court that he had two kids who he helps take care of while their mother goes to college.
"We have a very close bond,” he said.
He also said he takes care of his nephew several times a week as well.
"If I’m granted probation I can help keep supporting and raising my children,” he said. "My family needs me and more than anything my kids need their daddy still. And I understand nothing I do or say will ever bring Alyssia back. I’m deeply sorry for everybody who this has affected, everybody. But I can’t bring her back as much as I would like to.”
After Redance was sentenced, family members on both sides of the aisle were brought to tears. He was then handcuffed and taken away by bailiffs.
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