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By Alex Horvath / The Californian
BY JORGE BARRIENTOS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A father convicted of involuntary manslaughter and assault on his 2-month-old daughter causing great bodily harm was sentenced Tuesday in Kern County Superior Court to 25 years to life in prison.
Serjio Luevano, 26, sat silently as Judge John Brownlee denied him probation, as public defender Nelson Castro had requested, and instead handed down a 3-year sentence for the assault conviction, and 25 years to life for involuntary manslaughter.
An original murder charge was reduced to involuntary manslaughter, and a jury last month found him guilty of that charge, and assault.
Daughter Kiera Luevano suffered blunt force trauma and severe bleeding to the brain in October 2010, and authorities found probable cause that the injuries were inflicted by Luevano. His wife, Brandy Arellano, said Luevano panicked when Kiera stopped breathing and shook her after she didn't respond. She called it a tragic accident. An autopsy three days after her death found it to be a homicide.
On Tuesday, Castro argued that Luevano should be eligible for probation, that he cared for the child, made a terrible mistake, and has since taken responsibility for his actions.
"He did not intend to endanger this child," Castro said. "It was not willful."
Prosecutor David Wilson said Luevano was the cause of Kiera's death, and that he has tried to minimize the crime.
"If there's a more vulnerable victim, I don't know of one," Wilson told Brownlee. "For whatever reason, he shook this child and caused massive brain injury."
In the end, Brownlee denied Luevano probation, while acknowledging Luevano's "limited" criminal record. He received a general discharge from the U.S. Army, and pleaded no contest to DUI in 2010, court records show.
But Kiera suffered a violent death at the hands of Luevano, Brownlee said. Probation would be inappropriate, he said.
Following sentencing, Castro maintained Luevano did not intend to harm Kiera. No one attended Luevano's sentencing, except media. Arellano is now living in Colorado, Castro said.
Wilson called the sentence "appropriate" and "just."