Saturday, November 5, 2011
It was December 1, 2003 when 16-month-old Macayla Carpenter died from repeated blows to her head.
"A nightmare," said Miranda Carpenter, Macayla's mother. "The last six years has felt like 60."
The years dragged for Macayla's parents, in part because justice seemed like it would never come.
Larry Clay, Jr. was the only adult with Macayla when she died. He was arrested and charged with her death just days later. After nearly six years, he had yet to stand trail. Clay backed out of a plea deal, skipped out on his bail and his case had been postponed nearly two dozen times.
"Where is the justice for Macayla?" Miranda said. "There is none."
It seemed justice would finally come for the family on Friday. Macayla's family said Franklin County prosecutors told them to expect a guilty plea from Clay, as well as a 15-year sentence for the crime. But the guilty plea that Clay gave was not good enough for Macayla's parents.
Clay struck a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter with a recommended sentence of three years.
The Carpenter family said prosecutors told them a key piece of evidence would not be allowed at trial: the testimony of Macayla's then four-year-old sister, who witnessed the crime.
With more two years time already served, Clay could be free before the end of the year.
"The most a parent could hope for is some kind of...punishment would be done to see that this man never hurts another child again or hurts anybody else again but it wasn't today," said Macayla's father, John Carpenter. "It's disappointing when a man hurts a child and he only gets three years."
In the guilty plea Clay entered, he maintained his innocence but conceded his chances at trial were not good.
"You know you pray, and you pray for this day to come and it has not been worth the wait," said Miranda Carpenter outside the Franklin County Courthouse.
NewsChannel 5's attempts to talk with the prosecutor in this case were unsuccessful. Clay will be back in court in October for the judge to decide on the recommended three year sentence.