LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The mother of a 4-year-old boy murdered in 2007 said she expected the judge to sentence her son's confessed killer to the death penalty.
Rosalina Cano, Ivan Cano's mother, told WAVE 3 News she wanted Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman to sentence Cecil New to death. Instead, the judge sentenced him to life without parole. Cano's facial expression looked defeated when she walked out of the courtroom Friday morning.
On June 29, 2007, Ivan Cano, who was playing outside their home near Churchill Downs, disappeared. A week later, Louisville Metro sanitation workers collecting trash in the area where both Cano and New lived found the boy's body in the back of their garbage truck. The case worked its way through the court system for three years, and took an unexpected turn on October 14, 2010 when New entered an open plea of guilty. By doing so, New left the decision on his fate to Judge McDonald-Burkman.
After a doing extensive research and looking over evidence in the case, Judge McDonald-Burkman said she felt life without parole is what he deserved.
"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," said Judge McDonald-Burkman.
New's family dodged questions from reporters as they left the courtroom after hearing the judge's decision. They continued to say "no comment." But Jay Lambert, New's lawyer, did speak.
"It goes without being said that life without parole is a harsh, harsh sentence," said Lambert. "It's something that Cecil New is going to have to live with for the rest of his life."
While the Commonwealth before pleaded for the death penalty, they seemed satisfied with Judge McDonald-Burkman's reasoning.
"You are talking about a 150-pound-old child murdering child molester. I can't imagine the general population is going to be a pleasant experience for him," said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jon Heck.
Rosalina Cano said she wanted the death penalty and felt like there was nothing more to say.
"She feels that a life for a life should be the appropriate penalty. She knows now this is the end run it's over with," said Christopher 2X, a victims advocate and community activist.
New will be taken to the Kentucky Department of Corrections assessment center in LaGrange where he will be evaluated. The state then will decide where he will serve his sentence. State Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson declined our request to comment on Judge McDonald-Burkman's statements about how New would be treated in prison. But late Friday afternoon, she issued a written statement which said:
"It is an integral part of the mission statement for the Kentucky Department of Corrections to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth and to provide a safe, secure and humane environment for staff and offenders in carrying out the mandates of the legislative and judicial processes.
The Department in no way condones any type of inmate retaliation or vigilante justice. The staff of the facilities are tasked to ensure the safety of all inmates, regardless of crime. If a situation exists in which an inmate, or the staff of the facility, determine there is a safety concern involving any inmate, we have the option to place them in protective custody. The only long term protective custody unit within the Department is located at the Kentucky State Penitentiary."