A man sentenced in 2001 to 25 years in prison for killing his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter will serve less than half that time thanks...
A man sentenced in 2001 to 25 years in prison for killing his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter will serve less than half that time thanks to a new guilty plea and sentence he received Friday in King County Superior Court.
Chayce A. Hanson was resentenced Friday to 10 years after pleading guilty to two new charges, manslaughter and first-degree assault on a child. Hanson, who was found guilty of kicking Nenah Walters down a flight of stairs, was originally convicted of second-degree murder in 2001. He received an exceptional sentence due to several factors, including the victim’s vulnerability and the fact that he was her caretaker at the time.
But while it was on appeal, the sentence was thrown out because of a state Supreme Court decision. Known as the Andress decision, it said that an assault leading to an unintended death cannot be a murder but instead must be prosecuted as manslaughter.
The ruling overturned years of precedent and put into question hundreds of murder convictions. In King County, prosecutors are slowly moving through the affected cases, deciding whether to refile charges or enter into plea agreements with the defendants.
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Prosecutors decided not to retry Hanson because he agreed to plead guilty to the most severe charges they could seek. Also, the victim’s family wanted closure in the case, said spokesman Dan Donohoe.
Police and prosecutors say that while Hanson was babysitting, he kicked the toddler down some stairs in their Renton home. That night, the girl became ill and lethargic but Hanson assured the child’s mother, Denita Walters, that it was because of the flu, prosecutors said during the trial.
Nenah fell unconscious the next day and died of a ruptured colon.
During his testimony in 2001, Hanson accused Nenah’s mother of beating the girl and blaming him in order to cover up her crime.
Hanson, 31, did not speak in court Friday. He has about four years remaining on his new sentence.
Before Judge James Cayce delivered the sentence, Nenah’s family remembered the little girl and pleaded for the toughest sentence possible.
“I see kids at the bus stop on their way to school, wishing that was Nenah and me,” sobbed the girl’s father, Emery Walters. “A lot of parents take those things for granted. I would give anything to be back with my little girl. I’ll never get to play the Tooth Fairy with her, I’ll never get to play Santa Claus. … “
Added her mother: “This world is missing out on a very special person. I can’t put into words how much I miss her, how much it hurts. Please don’t let him out one day sooner than legally possible.”
In delivering the 10-year sentence, Cayce lamented that the law did not allow him to order a more severe punishment.
“My hands are tied,” he said.
Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or firstname.lastname@example.org