District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway is pleased that 25 year old Cody Key is going to prison over the beating death of 23 month old Colten Alexander May.
“It was a good result. A reasonable result and it sends him to prison for the next 45 years,” DA Dunaway told WJLE Thursday after Key entered a plea in Putnam County Criminal Court to second degree murder and received a sentence of 45 years to be served at 100%.He will receive jail credit of 563 days for time served from May 19, 2015 to December 1, 2016.
(CLICK PLAY BUTTON BELOW TO HEAR COMMENTS FROM DISTRICT ATTORNEY GENERAL BRYANT DUNAWAY)
Key and the child’s mother, 20 year old Jessica May were indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 in the youngster’s death. Key was indicted for first degree felony murder and aggravated child abuse. May was indicted for aggravated child neglect.
The couple brought the child to the emergency room of Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital on Sunday morning, May 17 but he was already dead. It was determined that the child had suffered internal and other physical injuries that resulted in his death. Law enforcement officers concluded that Key had beaten the child and that May knew the abuse was taking place.
“This is a pretty egregious case. The victim was a 23 month old little boy who had died from blunt force trauma causing internal injuries. In plain language he was beaten to the point where his internal injuries caused his death. It’s just a sad, sad case. We take these types of cases very seriously. Whenever a child is injured like this it just pulls at your heart strings. Its just not something you forget,” DA Dunaway told WJLE.
Although the case against Key was set for trial starting Monday, December 5 in DeKalb County Criminal Court, prosecutors reached a settlement with Key and his attorneys, the staff of the District Public Defender’s Office on Thursday. In the deal, Key agreed to enter a plea to the lesser offense of second degree murder and to take the 45 year sentence to be served at 100%. The hearing was held in Cookeville because Key is incarcerated at the Putnam County Jail. Had the trial been held, Key would have been transported to DeKalb County for the case.
“It was done in Cookeville for practical reasons. He was being held in the Putnam County Jail just for practical reasons. We were preparing for trial which was to begin Monday in DeKalb County. The plan was that he was to be transported back and forth to court in Smithville but the negotiated plea came together kind of in the last day. Just because he was in Putnam County and Judge Gary McKenzie happened to be there today and the lawyers were in Cookeville today it was just a practical decision to do it there. Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack came up to Cookeville to handle the clerk’s duties for the hearing and we were appreciative of that,” DA Dunaway continued.
“During the hearing, I recited the factual basis for the plea to the court and at the conclusion of the plea, the law allows the families of victims to give a victim impact statement. The paternal grandmother, Jennifer Pitts made a victim impact statement. She addressed Cody Key and just made a few statements as to her emotional feelings and how his actions affected the family. It was kind of an emotional statement. That was the nature of it and she was the only one who spoke besides the lawyers,” said DA Dunaway.
“We’re pleased with the result. Key has been in custody since May 19, 2015 and remains so and he has been sentenced to the custody of the department of correction at this point. That concludes the case against Cody Key,” he added.
As for Jessica May, Dunaway said she is expected to enter a plea under a negotiated settlement next week. “Jessica May is still in jail. I expect to bring her before the court in the next few days, hopefully next week to address her case,” DA Dunaway concluded.