BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – A trial with several twists and turns has come to a likely end in Battle Creek.
Monday, Leo Ackley was again convicted of killing 3-year-old Baylee Stenman while the toddler was under his care in 2011.
In 2014, Ackley was originally convicted of shaking Stenman to death, but the Michigan Supreme Court ordered a new trial for him on the grounds that he wasn’t properly defended in the first trial. Ackley said his appointed attorney failed to call key expert witnesses to the stand that could have corroborated his accidental death alibi.
Ackley said that Baylee died from injuries she sustained after falling out of bed. He claims he found her lifeless next to her bed after a nap.
Ackley’s sister Brittany Lake testified that Ackley came to her house with Baylee in his arms, and they sped to the hospital but pulled over when Baylee began foaming at the mouth. Rescue crews were called and tried to revive Baylee using CPR.
In court Monday, Baylee’s mother Erica Stenman made an emotional statement, along with Baylee’s sister Brandee Stenman-Milcher.
“You didn’t just kill my sister,” said Brandee, “you took my best friend, who I miss every day.”
“Going through this process for the second time has been very emotional,” said Erica. “Having to relive the hardest day of my life has been a nightmare. It has been 1, 950 days. I haven’t been able to go into Baylee’s room to wake her every morning I haven’t heard ‘I love you mommy’ nor seen her face, or hold her hand, or tuck her in or kiss her goodnight. I have spent the last 5 years and 4 months wondering who she’d be today.”
Ackley was convicted on first degree murder and first degree child abuse charges. His sentence remained the same – a life sentence as dictated by statute for his crimes.