Serenity McKinney’s mother sentenced in connection to 4-year-old’s death
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The mother of 4-year-old Serenity McKinney learned her prison sentence on Wednesday after pleading guilty to manslaughter in connection to her daughter’s death.
Catherine “Abby” McKinney will serve 12 years in prison for the charges of manslaughter, abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence, Bullitt Circuit Court Judge Rodney D. Burress confirmed.
McKinney took a plea deal in April to drop charges from murder to manslaughter in order to get her to testify against her boyfriend, Dakota Hill, the second suspect in the case.
Burress reminded McKinney that the sentencing is based on her own conduct and that Hill, who has not yet gone to trial, may be found innocent in the case.
“Twelve years is an insufficient sentence for what happened to this little girl,” Burress said. “But that’s not the criteria by which I have to judge your guilty plea.”
Serenity was reported missing by her grandparents in Jan. 2022 after she had been last seen in Dec. 2020.
The search continued for a month before Kentucky State Police found Serenity’s body in a wooded area near the Jefferson-Bullitt County line in Feb. 2022. An autopsy confirmed the body as Serenity’s in Aug. 2022.
Serenity’s paternal grandmother, Melody Roller, addressed McKinney in court before sentencing, stating the experience will forever be “a nightmare to our family.”
“Abby, what you allowed to happen has destroyed us,” Roller said. “You know what Serenity meant to us. She was our everything. Our light in darkness. Our warmth in the cold. Her arms, her little arms, gave the greatest hugs.”
Serenity’s father, David Roller, also addressed McKinney in court.
”My mom even said, like, I don’t understand why you couldn’t have called me, or done anything,” Roller said. “Somebody would have came and got her, somebody would have taken care of her. Somebody would have came and got you out of the situation.”
McKinney’s attorneys claim Hill was abusing McKinney and her daughter.
”Nobody knows what goes on in domestic violence situations until they got though it,” Burress said. “But what happened to this little girl is nothing short of horrific.”
Hill is set to appear in court in June.
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