CINCINNATI – The man accused of killing his 11-year-old daughter during a drunken shooting spree at their home will spend the next six years behind bars.
That was the sentence passed down Wednesday to Deandre Kelley, 34, in the courtroom of Hamilton County Judge Nadine Allen. The terms of the deal were agreed upon by both the defense and the prosecution, Allen said.
Kelley, a Sedamsville resident, accepted the plea deal on a reckless homicide charge that stemmed from the Jan. 12 shooting death of his daughter, Shanti Lanza, at the family home on Delhi Avenue.
His attorney, Hugh McCloskey Jr., told reporters that after talking the case over with the judge, his client realized that deal on the table was the best deal he was going to get.
He faced up to 17 years in prison if convicted on all charges. But the prosecutors dropped charges of involuntary manslaughter, endangering children and a weapons charge as part of the plea agreement.
Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters argued that Kelley arrived home intoxicated after 2 a.m. and Shanti's mother and his longtime girlfriend, Kristina "Tina" Lanza, forced him out of the house.
Kelley then fired four shots into the air, Deters argued, one of which ended up in a second-story bedroom of the house where Shanti was hiding. The bullet struck her in the chest.
"This is the end of the road for this enabling," Deters said after an earlier court appearance. "He needs to be in jail and the rest of them should be looking in the mirror for the reason this little girl is dead.”
Hamilton County Clerk of Court records show Kelley was arrested for a domestic disturbance involving Shanti’s mother in 2007. He was convicted on an assault charge involving two other people in 2003.
Vince Lanza, Shanti’s uncle, said Deandre and his sister had a troubled relationship, but loved each other, and their daughter.
"It was one of those relationships that they can't be together but they can't be without each other," he said, adding that the couple has been together for 15 years.
Tina Lanza was one of several people who physically erupted with emotion and vocal outbursts when Allen read the length of the prison sentence.
During the hearing, Lanza insisted on a lighter sentence for Kelley, stating its what her slain daughter would have wanted.
"I know Shanti would have forgave her daddy," Lanza told Allen. "This was a total accident."
Allen said Lanza's request was "foolish."
After the hearing, several friends and family of both Kelley and the Lana let their feelings be known to everyone inside the Hamilton County courthouse.
"No justice served!" screamed Danielle Lott, who referred to herself as Shanti Lanza's aunt.
When she heard the commotion, Allen directed the Lanza family to reenter the courtroom.
Tina Lanza and Lott were held in contempt of court after ignoring multiple requests from Allen to tone down their behavior. The refusal to obey led the judge to order both women jailed, eliciting a new round of responses from those in the courtroom.
Teary-eyed and heartbroken, Lanza and Lott appeared in court Thursday for a contempt hearing. They apologized to the judge, upon her request, and told Allen their outburst was a result of their ongoing grieving process.
"My emotions just came over me, but I do apologize," Lanza said as she held back tears.
Lott struggled to get through her apology, saying that she is "so sorry for the way I acted in the courtroom. I realize that my emotions took over. I should have never disrespected you. You are the judge."
Even if somewhat understandable, the scene they created was "totally unacceptable," according to Hamilton County Assistant Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier.
"It's a court of law and you have to respect it. There's certain ways you have to behave and the kind of behavior we had yesterday was totally unacceptable and we just can't let it happen," he said. "We can't just say, well they're upset. It has to stop and you can't act like that in a courtroom. We will not put up with it and the judges will not put up with it."
After spending one night at the Hamilton County Justice Center, the women are now free.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.