A Pacific Junction man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of a 13-month-old baby girl, Aliyanna L. May. The child died Feb. 2. The plea agreement was reached Monday in Mills County District Court.
Colby Ray Puckett, 23, will be sentenced Jan. 13. Mills County Attorney Eric Hansen said the mandatory sentence in Iowa for second-degree murder is 50 years in prison. Puckett will be required to serve at least 35 years before being considered for parole, Hansen said.
Before the plea agreement was reached, Puckett was facing charges of first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death. Hansen said the victim's family was agreeable to the plea arrangement.
On the morning of Feb. 1, the Mills County 911 Communications Center received a report of an injured baby at 1101 Lincoln Ave. in Pacific Junction. The caller told a 911 dispatcher the baby had fallen out of bed, according to a report at the Mills County Sheriff’s Office.
The baby was treated at the residence before being transported to Omaha by LifeNet medical helicopter.
Puckett was arrested after a weeklong investigation by the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and an autopsy on the child.
According to a court document signed by DCI investigator Laura Myers, Puckett, the only person tending to the child, said in an initial interview with a Mills County Sheriff's Deputy that he had placed the child on a bed to be changed when she fell off. After the child was taken to the hospital and further testing was done, it was determined that the child had more extensive injuries than previously thought, The child had extensive injuries to her eyes and brain, which in the opinion of the treating physicians was caused by abusive head trauma and not a fall.
In a subsequent interview with investigators, Myers said Puckett made admissions that his actions would be consistent with the medical findings. He admitted to calling a third party and not 911 shortly after causing the injuries despite the obvious signs of medical distress exhibited by the victim.
"Based upon the description by physicians as to the amount of trauma required to cause the injuries and his failure to render aid, the defendant clearly showed an extreme indifference to human life," Myers said in her statement.