Judge Peggy Kittel sentenced Ronald Eugene Heskett to 195 months in prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Vance Moulton who lived with cerebral palsy. Heskett, who was a care-giver for Moulton, claimed that the death was an assisted suicide.
I was interested in the case because Heskett claimed that the death was an assisted suicide. I was concerned that his claim of assisted suicide may result in a lesser sentence.
Judge Kittel was asked by Michael Warner, the defense attorney for Heskett, to apply a lesser sentence, but Kittel rejected that suggestion and applied the full 195 months of jail time to the conviction.
According to the Lawrence Journal World news:
During his September 2015 trial, prosecutors presented evidence to suggest that Heskett killed Moulton, who had cerebral palsy, for a financial motive, pointing to an approximate $13,000 in cash from government refunds missing from Moulton’s apartment.
They also looked at a series of expenditures Heskett made, shortly after the checks were cashed, on a 1972 Chevelle and numerous car parts.
Heskett had claimed since Sept. 22, 2014, that the killing was an assisted suicide. He said Moulton, of Lawrence, had been persistently asking him to “shoot him” for six months to a year before Moulton’s death. Heskett testified at his trial that the missing $13,000 did indeed go to the car and car parts, but that it was as part of a plan with Moulton to “flip” the car and sell it for $25,000.
At Heskett’s sentencing hearing Friday, Prosecutor Eve Kemple read letters from Moulton’s friends to the court. Moulton’s college roommate and friend, Keith Slimmer, said Moulton “had the greatest laugh to light up any room.” Another friend, Adam Burnett, said Moulton was a “role model” and he “genuinely cared about other people.”
Burnett, who uses a wheelchair, as Moulton did, said his friend’s murder has shaped the way he views his own home-care attendants.
“I cannot look at (my care-attendant) workers the same again,” Burnett said. “We depend on them; we trust them. It bothers me knowing there is nothing he could have done to defend himself.”
After sentencing Heskett, Kittel acknowledged the judgment would be of little comfort to Moulton’s loved ones.
“No sentence … will bring Mr. Moulton back,” Kittel said. “People will leave here likely feeling as bad as they did when they arrived.”
I published articles for everyday of the trial. The first day of the Heskett trial, the second day of the trial, the third day of the trial, the fourth day of the trial, the fifth day of the trial, the sixth day of the trial and the decision of the jury finding Heskett guilty of second-degree murder.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition recognizes that if legalized, falsely claiming the death was an assisted suicide can become a defense for murder.