Judge rejects Kirkpatrick’s plea agreement
KINGMAN — A Superior Court judge rejected a plea agreement Thursday for a Fort Mohave man who pleaded guilty last month to the murder of an infant boy in October 2014.
Tyler James Kirkpatrick, 23, pleaded guilty in October to
second-degree murder per an Alford plea, which a defendant pleads guilty but does not admit to the crime. He was charged with first-degree murder and child abuse for the Oct. 21, 2014, murder of 15-month Kade Krystal.
Superior Court Commissioner Billy Sipe Jr. questioned the prison sentence of the plea agreement for a defendant killing an infant. The judge also questioned the prosecutor withdrawing the crime as a dangerous crime against a child. Sipe also said Kirkpatrick never admitted to murdering the child, claiming it was an accident.
Under the plea agreement, the judge would have sentenced Kirkpatrick to prison for 10 to 16 years.
Deputy Mohave County Attorney Jacob Cote argued that there were no eye-witnesses, that there were prior injuries and that the victim’s family was in support of the plea agreement.
The child’s mother tearfully asked to accept the plea agreement and allow her closure.
Kirkpatrick’s attorney, Nathan Best, argued mitigating factors including Kirkpatrick’s young age at the time of the crime, his lack of criminal history, his extensive family support and his remorse.
Sipe rejected the plea agreement and agreed to excuse himself from the case, which will now be reassigned to presiding criminal Superior Court Judge Rick Lambert to assign the case to another criminal judge.
According to police records and trial testimony, Kade’s mother returned home from work Oct. 21, 2014, to find the child with severe bruises to the head and buttocks. The infant was taken to a Fort Mohave hospital and put on life support. He was later flown to a Las Vegas hospital where he died two days later.
The Clark County Medical Examiner ruled the child died from blunt force trauma to the head and his death was ruled a homicide.
Kirkpatrick was arrested Feb. 18, 2015, at the home he shared with the infant’s mother. He moved in about four months prior to the murder. When questioned by police, he locked himself inside the bathroom and refused to come out. He eventually surrendered and was charged with the murder.