Kuhn draws 90-day sentence

Dolores man took plea in death of infant daughter

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The 19-year-old Dolores resident, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in September for killing his 6-month-old daughter in November of 2011, was sentenced Tuesday morning to 90 days in jail.

Dylan Kuhn pleaded guilty to slamming his daughter on a bed which caused head injuries that resulted in his daughter’s death.

Much of the prosecution’s case during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing focused on a November 2011 taped video meeting between Kuhn and Montezuma County Sheriff’s Detective Jason Spruell.

Kuhn faced up to four years in prison under the plea agreement, and District Attorney Russell Wasley urged District Court Judge Douglas Walker to give Kuhn the maximum prison sentence allowed.

According to court documents, police said Kuhn admitted to slamming his infant daughter, Sailor, down on a bed in the early hours of Nov. 1.

The alleged admission came after a medical doctor ruled that the death appeared to be caused by the infant being slammed against a soft, but unyielding surface.

Before being sentenced, an emotional Kuhn addressed the court.

“I loved my daughter very much. I am very sorry. I was told I was too young to raise her, and that turned out to be true. I am sorry to everyone. I can’t bring her back.” he said as tears streamed down his face.

Walker said no one should forget the reason for the court case — a 6-month-old girl died at the hands of her father.

The judge said the nature of the crime could result in the maximum sentence, but added he is not sure the length of prison time serves as a deterrent.

He agreed with Kuhn’s attorney, John Moran, that people often learn to be repeat offenders while in prison.

Walker pointed to Kuhn’s young age and criminal past being minimal as good signs he would not reoffend if placed on probation.

“I am giving you the opportunity. Make the best of this opportunity, if nothing else, to honor your daughter’s memory,” Walker said.

The admission came during Kuhn’s interview with Spruell who repeatedly maintained his daughter fell off the couch a week earlier.

After being told the evidence did not support this claim, Kuhn said he lied because the fall was actually closer to two days from his daughter’s death.

“I am 18, and I don’t know what I am doing in a situation like this,” he said in the November interview. “I don’t want to do anything that will hurt me or April (the child’s mother).”

After Kuhn changed his story about his daughter falling from the couch two days before the death and not a week, Spruell asked him if there was anything else he was being untruthful about.

”Something happened to Sailor that morning, and the evidence shows it could not have happened that way,” Spruell said. “You did not mean to hurt her.”

He told him that he probably became frustrated, told her to shut up and be quiet before slamming her down on the mattress.

While crying, Kuhn replied that he did not mean to hurt his daughter.

“I didn’t mean to hurt her,” he said in the taped interview. “I did put her in her bed too hard.”

Kuhn then requested to speak with an attorney.

Wasley asked for the maximum sentence, partly because Kuhn initially lied about the facts and was more concerned with him and the mother of Sailor not getting in trouble.

Wasley also said Kuhn never told authorities he partied with friends and his girlfriend Halloween night and police had to find out about this on their own.

“Judge, there is no one to speak for the victim,” Wasley said. “This is a case where a father and friends partied.”

He said Kuhn only admitted to slamming his daughter onto a bed because the evidence contradicted his statements.

“Nothing ever can make this right,” Wasley said, and pointed at Kuhn’s driving under the influence of drugs while out on bail and his juvenile record. The DUI case was dismissed as part of the plea bargain as was the charge of child abuse.

“These are the reasons the people are asking for the maximum,” he said. “Nothing can restore the (life) of this baby. In the end he is not suitable for probation.”

Moran said the video clearly shows the death of Kuhn’s daughter was an accident, and added it took a while for his client to come to terms with what he did that took away the most precious thing in his life.

Putting Kuhn in prison, Moran said, would set back his client from all the progress he has already made. He also said Kuhn has been living with April Coleman, the mother of their deceased daughter.

“There are people who are so dangerous that they need to be locked in a cage; Dylan is not one of those people,” Moran said. “He has apologized to anyone who will listen.”

Kuhn’s mother, Vicki Espinoza, addressed the court and said there was a tragedy with what happened to her granddaughter.

She said sending her son to prison would not be appropriate, and added Sailor was his son’s life.

“I am so worried that if you send him away he will shut down,” she said. “I don’t know why it went this far. It was an accident.”

Coleman told Walker that she never observed Kuhn being overly frustrated with their daughter.

“He loved Sailor,” Coleman said. “The times I observed him with Sailor he was great. I am not exactly sure with what happened here.”

Walker also sentenced Kuhn to four years probation, mental health and substance evaluation and treatment, a parenting class, not to be allowed to be alone with children under the age of 10, court costs and possible restitution.