NAPOLEON -- While the circumstances surrounding the drug overdose death of 13-month-old Kamryn Gerken remain unclear, one of two people present the night she died was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison.
David Knepley, 51, also was fined $10,000. The young girl's mother, Jayme Schwenkmeyer Novak, 25, was sentenced last week to four years in prison after she pleaded no contest to reckless homicide for Kamryn's Aug. 15, 2007, death.
"As I stated at the Schwenkmeyer Novak sentencing, only two people know for certain whatever happened the night of Kamryn's death," Henry County Common Pleas Judge Keith P. Muehlfeld said. "Whatever happened, the evidence indicated that the child, to some degree, ended up in the care of the defendant, Mr. Knepley, and the court is convinced the defendant's reckless conduct that night caused the child's death, and that was the jury's finding."
In February, Knepley was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering after a jury trial. He has been held at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio since the verdict was announced.
In court Tuesday, Kelly Wilcox stood with Kamryn's grandmother and read a statement from the Gerken family, asking the court to impose the maximum penalty for Knepley -- 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
She said Knepley did not bear all the responsibility for her cousin Kamryn's death, although he could have gotten medical treatment for Kamryn or called 911 when her mother failed to do that.
Ms. Wilcox said Knepley and Schwenkmeyer "took full advantage of each other, gaining what you wanted out of the relationship" when they lived together with her young daughter.
"She used you because you could and would provide her with what she wanted at the time -- drugs," Ms. Wilcox said. "… For your own selfish reasons, you fed into Jayme's addiction despite the fact that she had a child. You knew that those around her were trying to get her to stop using, but you kept giving them to her anyways because it kept her with you."
Henry County Prosecutor John Hanna also asked for a 10-year sentence saying evidence presented at trial made it clear Knepley knew Kamryn had ingested the drugs, and one witness testified that Knepley had told him he occasionally gave Kamryn drugs and had "gone overboard" the night she died.
"Whether it was intentional that he killed her is not the issue in this court," Mr. Hanna said. "The issue is did he recklessly cause her death and there is no issue as to that."
Knepley declined to make a statement when given the opportunity.
His attorney, Clayton Crates, asked the court to impose the minimum sentence -- three years in prison -- saying Knepley had no prior criminal record and had always appeared in court while he was out of jail on bond. He said Knepley, who is on disability due to medical problems, lives with his elderly parents and helps take care of them and their home.
Although he was sentenced to eight years, Knepley will be eligible to apply for judicial release after serving five years in prison, Mr. Hanna said after the hearing. Schwenkmeyer was given credit for 333 days she spent in jail and will likely serve slightly more than three years in prison.
"I believe it's a result that everyone is satisfied with," Mr. Hanna said of the two sentences. "We believe that the evidence showed that Dave was more culpable in the actual administration of the drugs."
Mr. Crates said afterward that Knepley would appeal. He had contended during the trial that Knepley had left the apartment early on the morning Kamryn died.
"The judge said no one really knows what happened. From our perspective, Dave doesn't know either because he was not there," Mr. Crates said. "Dave was not there, and that's the reason we're going to be appealing the case."
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6129.