Infant’s killer sentenced to 20 years in prison

February 21, 2018 GMT

KINGMAN — A Fort Mohave man was sentenced to two decades in prison Tuesday for the death of an infant boy in October 2014.

Tyler James Kirkpatrick, 23, pleaded guilty in January to second-degree murder per an Alford plea.

An Alford plea is similar to a “no contest” plea because the defendant continues to assert his innocence, but differs in that he formally pleads guilty and admits the prosecution likely has enough evidence to convince a judge or jury to convict him.

Kirkpatrick was charged with the Oct. 21, 2014, murder of 15-month Kade Krystal.

Charges including first-degree murder and child abuse were dismissed. The second-degree murder charge is considered as a dangerous crime against a child.

Kirkpatrick’s attorney, Ira Shiflett, asked the judge to accept the plea agreement, citing his client’s age, his family support and that he has no prior felonies. He also spoke of Kirkpatrick’s marijuana and prescription drug use at the time.

Deputy Mohave County Attorney Jacob Cote said the victim’s family supported the plea agreement, wanting closure. The stipulated sentence was more appropriate than a previous plea agreement that was rejected, Cote said.

Under the previous plea agreement, another judge had questioned the 10- to 16-year prison sentence for the killing of an infant. That judge rejected the plea agreement and excused himself from the case.

The victim’s mother, grandmother and grandfather angrily spoke in court, saying their lives have been torn apart.

Superior Court Judge Richard Weiss said he understood the emotional outburst of the victim’s family. Weiss sentenced Kirkpatrick to the stipulated 20-year prison sentence.

Krystal’s mother left for work, leaving her son in the care of Kirkpatrick, her boyfriend, who was not Krystal’s biological father. A grandmother visited the home several times before the mother returned home from work.

Krystal’s mother found him with severe bruises to the head and buttocks. Krystal’s was taken to a Fort Mohave hospital where staff resuscitated him; he was then flown to a Las Vegas hospital where he died two days later.

The Clark County medical examiner determined Krystal 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 Krystal’s mother. Kirkpatrick had moved in about four months prior to the murder. Kirkpatrick locked himself inside the bathroom and refused to come out for a short time before finally surrendering.