Life without parole for convicted child killer

Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman
Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman
Cecil New
Cecil New
Ivan Cano (source: family photo)
Ivan Cano (source: family photo)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Cecil New, the man who pleaded guilty to kidnapping and killing 4-year-old Ivan Cano in 2007 will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman sentenced New to life without the possibility of parole on Dec. 17, just a month after prosecutors argued for the death penalty.

Because New pleaded guilty to murder and waived the right to a trial by jury, Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman had the sole duty to determine his sentence.  In a stern lecture to the defendant, Burkman said she weighed all her options, including the death penalty"

"Death is undoubtedly justified for you, undoubtedly," Burkman said. "There is not one cell in your body, Cecil New, that can be rehabilitated. But is death and a death sentence truly justified? Is it justice, is the question.

"In this case there's theoretical justice and there's real justice. Death is easy. Death is the knee-jerk reaction and it is easy. Living outside of death row in general population in fear of prison justice every day is a Hell more suited to you, Mr. New, than living under the justice guise of death row.

"And therefore the court does sentence you to confinement in the penitentiary for your entire life without the possibility of parole every for the kidnapping of Ivan Cano. The court sentences you to confinement in the penitentiary for your entire life without the possibility of parole, ever, for the murder of Ivan Cano. The court sentences you to five years for tampering with physical evidence, 12 months for unlawful transaction with a minor, all those for a total of a life sentence without the possibility of parole, ever.

Noting that the death penalty "in our system is not carried out in a quick manner," Burkman said such a sentence might be too easy.

"It would give you, on average, at least 20 years of the highest and ultimate protection in prison," Burkman continued. "This court cannot find justice in that reality."

In sentencing New to serve life without the possibility of parole, Burkman said he would be incarcerated with the general prison population where he could be required to congregate with other inmates for meals and other activities.

"Make no mistake Cecil New - and let the court make this perfectly clear - this is a sentence not of mercy," Burkman said. "It is not an act of mercy. It is not an anti-death penalty stance either.

"It's a sentence that this court believes will mete out the harshest punishment currently available You deserve nothing less than the harshest punishment. And I hope that this sentence pales in comparison to what you will receive ultimately from above."

Addressing the family of Ivan Cano, who sat silently in the courtroom, the judge said, "your child is this community's child. And you child will always be revered...and will never, ever be forgotten."

While Ivan's mother wiped tears from her eyes, Burkman concluded her remarks to the family:

"I hope that you will find some comfort knowing that the only human contact Cecil New will have for the rest of his life will be with bigger, meaner men who have nothing to lose, or who are armed. And that he will live in fear every day. That he will be the smaller, the weaker, the more defenseless, and that he will wish this court had put him on death row."

Ivan was four years old when he disappeared from his home near Churchill Downs on June 29, 2007. Police and volunteers launched a massive search of the area for Ivan. The boy's body was found in the back of a Louisville Metro sanitation truck on the morning of July 7.

Prosecutors say that New had watched Ivan from his window.

On Oct. 14, 2010, just one day before his trial was set to begin, New pled guilty to Cano's murder.

Previous Stories:

Copyright 2010 WAVE News. All rights reserved.