Jeffersonville man convicted in 2018 killing appeals sentence

Jeffersonville man convicted in 2018 killing appeals sentence
Emery was sentenced in the murder of Stevie Cornett. (Source: Schank, Kristi)

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (New and Tribune) - A man who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the 2018 death of a Jeffersonville woman has appealed the 30-year-sentence given to him by a Clark County judge.

Leevi Emery, 36, pleaded guilty to a level 2 felony for voluntary manslaughter in June after admitting to killing 29-year-old Stevie Cornett at the East Chestnut house where they and two others had lived.

Emery was identified as a suspect early in the case and initially charged with murder three months after Cornett was found hidden in a crawlspace in the home Aug. 6, 2018. Police say they believed she had been killed about 10 days before. Her father, who had been the one to find her, had filed a missing person’s report with police.

In June, Emery entered a blind plea to the lesser manslaughter charge, admitting during the Zoom hearing that he had inflicted “injuries on her with a sharp object, while acting under sudden heat,” the News and Tribune previously reported.

During his sentencing in August, Clark County Circuit Court Judge No. 4 Vicki Carmichael had given him the full sentence allowable for a level 2 felony, which could have carried between 10 and 30 years. She also found that Emery was a high risk for re-offense.

The 27-page appellate brief filed Dec. 30 states in part that the court abused its discretion by not reflecting certain mitigating factors into the sentence including Emery’s childhood abuse and early substance abuse, untreated mental health issues and dependents.

It requests the sentence be remanded and modified to the advisory of 17-and-a-half years, with part of that to be suspended and served on probation and/or transferred to community corrections.

“...The defendant’s character, shaped as it has been by abuse and neglect as well as untreated mental, behavioral and substance disorders reflects a need and opportunity for remediation through treatment and supervision that cannot be provided through incarceration alone,” according to the brief.

The document also states that the court erred in finding aggravating factors in the manner in which Cornett was killed and hidden, when those circumstances were not part of the plea agreement, only that he had killed her “in a sudden heat,” which is statutorily one of the elements of a voluntary manslaughter charge.

Court records filed early in the case shows that Emery had visited the behavioral health center at Clark Memorial Health at least twice in the days and hours surrounding Cornett’s killing. In one instance, Emery drove Cornett’s car there.

At the time of his sentencing, Emery was given credit for the two years served pretrial.