The Iowa Court of Appeals has reversed a decision that sentenced a man for both child endangerment and involuntary manslaughter in the death of his daughter. Jarod York was found guilty in Washington County of both crimes in the death of his six-month old daughter Riley. Court records showed the girl was shaken violently and suffered brain injuries that led to her death.
York was sentenced for both the convictions, but appealed saying the sentence for the two crimes should be merged because the more severe involuntary manslaughter could not have happened without the lesser crime of child endangerment. The Iowa Court of Appeals agreed with York and reversed the district court ruling. The appeals court cited the August 2006 Iowa Supreme Court ruling in the Rodney Heemstra murder case, which changed the practice of sentencing someone for both crimes.
The appeals court says under the principle of the Heemstra case, the court cannot impose consecutive sentences for two crimes when the lesser crime leads to the more severe crime. The ruling says common sense and fairness dictates that the two offenses merge and they cannot presume that the legislature intended cumulative punishments. The appeals court sent the case back to the district court for resentencing.
See the complete ruling here: York ruling PDF