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Man convicted of killing toddler to be sentenced today

Post by Adam Lynn / The News Tribune on March 30, 2007 at 6:00 am with No Comments »
March 30, 2007 6:00 am

Today’s the day Leon Reyes learns his sentence for shaking his 2-year-old stepson to death.

A jury convicted Reyes of homicide by abuse last month in the death of Haydon Kostelecky.

That same jury then decided Reyes is eligible for an exceptional sentence, saying Haydon was a “particularly vulnerable” victim.

Lights & Sirens has learned deputy prosecutor Sunni Ko will recommend a sentence of 50 years for Reyes, 29.

Defense attorney John Chin plans to argue for a standard-range sentence for his client: Somewhere between 22 years, 7 months and 30 years, 1 month.

It will be up to Judge Kathryn Nelson to decide. The hearing is set for 1:30 p.m.

I’ll try to post an update to the TNT’s main Web page by late afternoon.

Here’s the last story I wrote on the case:

Tougher sentence in child’s killing?

A man convicted of killing his stepson faces extra punishment after a jury decides the toddler was ‘particularly vulnerable.’

By Adam Lynn

Wednesday,February 14, 2007

Edition: SOUTH SOUND, Section: South Sound&Local, Page B02

A Pierce County jury decided Tuesday that a toddler shaken to death by his stepfather was a “particularly vulnerable” victim.

The decision paved the way for prosecutors to seek a prison sentence beyond the standard range for Haydon Kostelecky’s killer, Leon Reyes.

Deputy prosecutor Sunni Ko said Tuesday she hadn’t decided what sentence she’ll seek for Reyes, 29. The standard range for someone with Reyes’ criminal background is between 22 years, 7 months and 30 years, 1 month.

Ko said she’d research similar cases to see what a reasonable sentence would be.

The same jury convicted Reyes of homicide by abuse and second-degree murder in Haydon’s death last week. The two convictions will be consolidated for sentencing purposes, Ko said.

The jury was called back to work Monday for special deliberations to determine if there were aggravating factors in the crime. Prosecutors must prove such aggravating factors in order to be able to seek a sentence outside the standard range.

Ko told the jury Monday that there were three: Haydon, at 2 1/2, was particularly vulnerable; Reyes abused a position of trust in committing the crime; and Reyes acted with deliberate cruelty when he killed the boy. Evidence showed Haydon had been abused for some time before his death.

Defense attorney John Chin then told jurors that, while terrible, Haydon’s death was not particularly egregious when compared to other child killings.

“All too often these tragic incidents occur,” Chin said. “Was this one particularly worse than others?”

Jurors did not issue verdicts on whether Reyes violated his position of trust or was deliberately cruel.

But Ko’s argument that Haydon was particularly vulnerable because he was just learning to talk apparently resonated with them.

“The defendant knew Haydon couldn’t pick up the phone and call 911,” she said.

Reyes sat stoically Tuesday as the jury rendered its verdict. He will remain in the Pierce County Jail until his sentencing date.

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