Keeva Delaney, 23, pleaded guilty in May to voluntary manslaughter in the June 6, 2016, shooting death of 26-year-old Aaron Delaney inside the Edna Court apartment where they lived.
In the plea, she agreed to a 10-year prison sentence, but requested a sentencing hearing for Criminal Court Judge Stacy Street to determine how that would be served.
The judge denied full probation for Delaney during her sentencing hearing Wednesday. Instead, he gave her a sentence he said will be a reminder of her actions that took her husband’s life.
The judge’s sentencing options
• Order her sentence served and she would be eligible for parole in 3.5 years;
• Grant full probation, meaning she would serve no further jail time and be on probation for 10 years; and
• Some form of split confinement, where she would serve time in jail, but also be subject to some sort of supervision.
Street said if he ordered the sentence served, it would likely be overturned. His solution was for her to serve one year in jail and nine years on community corrections. He further modified the sentence because of her high-risk pregnancy, saying the jail would likely furlough her due to her medical condition.
“The lack of remorse in this case concerns me so much that I think Ms. Delaney needs to be reminded of what she has done, what she has taken from her children and from the victim’s family,” Street said. “I’m ordering her to serve 30 days in jail every June beginning June 1 through June 30 for the entire 10-year sentence.
“Every June 1st you’re going to come to the Washington County Detention Center and serve a month. You took his life June 6, 2016, so every June for the next 10 years you’ll spend a month in jail as your punishment.”
• June 6, 2016, an argument broke out between Aaron and Keeva Delaney after he arrived home late from work.
• The argument also stemmed from a visit Delaney Jr. had at work from another woman.
• Witnesses in the apartment allegedly heard, “I’m going to shoot you,” and then heard Delaney Jr. say, “Shoot me. Shoot me right here,” then the gun went off.
• The bullet went through Delaney Jr. and through a wall and shattered a lamp in the next room where guests were sleeping.
• Two adults were in that other room and two children were in the room where the shooting occurred.
After hearing from Aaron Delaney’s parents — his mother, Annette Stephens, and father, Aaron Delaney Sr. — Street went through the sentencing guidelines state law requires him to follow. Both said their son’s death was devastating to them and their families, and that it was hurtful to learn she was going to clubs and partying after she got out of jail on bond.
“He was my rock, he was my strength, and he had a heart of gold and he would do anything for anyone,” Stephens said of her son. “You took a huge part of my life. You have no idea. I no longer know life as it once was. And your children ... you have hurt your daughters. I am angry. This girl has done so much to my son, to this family and you have yet to be accountable for anything you have ever done to him. He was good to you.”
Delaney Sr.’s comments to Keeva Delaney was more compassionate — to the point he said he had forgiven her but she must pay her penance and seek forgiveness from God.
Both asked the judge to put their son’s killer in prison for as long as possible.
In defense attorney Bill McManus’ argument for no jail time, he told Street his client had no criminal history, and when she shot her husband she was being beaten at the time. He urged the court to place his client on probation so she could work and support her children.
Assistant District Attorney General Fred Lance’s response was, “isn’t it interesting Mr. McManus resorts to that argument that she needs to be out so she can work and take care of her kids. Well, if she hadn’t killed the father of those kids she wouldn’t necessarily have to be out there,” working.
That brought several loud comments from the audience and a reprimand from Street. Lance said he didn’t mean to “exacerbate emotions, but this is a case where it’s hard to take the emotions out of it even at this stage. The facts argue against full probation. If anything, the facts argue for her to serve her sentence and we would ask the court consider making her serve her sentence or making her serve split confinement.”
Before making his ruling, Street said there was nothing he could do to make anyone in the courtroom feel better.
“There’s a lot of hurt in this room ... a whole lot of hurt,” Street said. “I want you to understand there is nothing I can do do alleviate that hurt for anyone.” He noted that both of Delaney Jr.’s parents had expressed some amount of forgiveness to the woman who killed their son.
“She has three children. she is currently pregnant and the court has been informed it is a high-risk pregnancy,” the judge said. “Taking note of her pregnancy and the high risk nature of her pregnancy .... that would weigh slightly in favor of granting probation.”
Street also noted that Keeva Delaney had shown no remorse for her husband’s death.
“I’ve sat and watched almost everybody in this courtroom involved in this case cry except Ms. Delaney,” Street said. “And that causes me concern because remorse is one factor the court can look at. I have not seen any remorse from you, Ms. Delaney, during any hearing, during the plea or while you had people up here testifying about the loss they had. He was still your husband. It was still the father of your children. He’s gone at your hand. Yet I saw no emotion.” Street said that factor weighed against granting probation.
Keeva Delaney’s jail term begins June 1, 2019; she’ll serve the entire month and go back on community supervision. That will repeat until 2029. Street warned her to not attempt to have the date changed at any time during the next 10 years.