A Pittsburg County Judge has ordered Devin Sizemore to spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole — and the judge also delivered some scathing remarks along with the sentence.
A six-man, six-woman jury convicted Sizemore in September of first-degree murder in the 2016 death of his 21-month-old daughter, Emily Sizemore. Law enforcement officers testified during the five-day trial that they found the child floating in a pond in rural Krebs, pulled her from the water and tried to save her life.
Around the same time, other law enforcement officers struggled with Devin Sizemore, who was standing in the pond water not far from his daughter when they arrived at the site in the early-morning darkness, according to courtroom testimony.
During the sentencing hearing held Wednesday at the Pittsburg County Courthouse in McAlester, Associate District Judge Tim Mills denied a request by Devin Sizemore's defense team that Sizemore be granted an arrest of judgment and a new trial.
The judge said the court would follow the recommendations of the jury and set punishment at life without parole on the first-degree murder conviction and at five years in prison on the conviction of assault and battery on a police officer.
Speaking from the bench, Mills said he had something he wanted to say.
Addressing Devin Sizemore, Mills said there were parts of the trial that was obviously difficult to hear.
"Young Emily appeared to have so many fail her over her short life," Mills said. "The one person that should have been her protector against any and all harm, her father, was the one that failed her the most.
"It would be the hope of this court, Mr. Sizemore, that every day for the rest of your life, that the horror of that crime that you've committed against your own child weighs heavily on your soul — and that with every breath that you take, you think about her last," said Mills.
Mills sentenced Devin Sizemore to a concurrent five-year prison term on the conviction of assault and battery on a police officer for fighting with then-Krebs police officer Jack Suter as they struggled in the Krebs pond when Suter tried to remove Sizemore from the water near where his daughter had been found.
During the Wednesday hearing, District 18 District Attorney Chuck Sullivan objected to a request from Sizemore's defense attorneys Matthew Sheets and Michael Miller asking that the Oklahoma Department of Corrections conduct a pre-sentence investigation in the case. Sullivan noted the jury had recommended a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Mills denied the defense request for a pre-sentence investigation. The judge did grant a defense request that Sizemore remain in the Pittsburg County Jail for the next 10 days before he is transferred to an Oklahoma Department of Corrections facility. That would have him in McAlester for 10 days in case his attorneys need to confer with him regarding an appeal of his convictions.
Prior to sentencing, Mills denied the most recent request by the defense to grant Sizemore a new trial.
Sheets had filed court documents requesting a new trial on the grounds that the criminal information in the first-degree murder charge filed by Sullivan alleged Devin Sizemore inflicted mortal wounds upon Emily Sizemore, causing the child to die. During the trial, a member of the state Medical Examiner's officer testified the child died by drowning.
Sullivan maintained the prosecution had proven all of the elements required to obtain a first-degree murder conviction.
Sizemore had originally been set to face sentencing on Oct. 10. However, the sentencing was continued, first to Oct. 17, then to Oct. 24 and finally to Oct. 31 as Sheets filed several motions asking for the verdict to be overturned and for Sizemore to be granted a new trial.
Sheets filed a final written motion on Oct. 26 asking for a new trial. Sullivan did not file a written response to that motion, maintaining he had responded to the issues multiple times prior to the Oct. 31 sentencing hearing.
Following the hearing, Sheets briefly talked with Sizemore before a deputy accompanied Sizemore outside the courtroom. The defense has indicated there will be an appeal in the case.
Afterward, Sullivan said the record was abundantly clear.
He recalled getting a phone call at around 4 a.m. in the morning when law enforcement officers pulled Emily from the pond.
Sullivan said he's been living with the case since then — but "not at the same level as those brave officers and first responders," he said.
"When you are trusted with bringing justice, it's an extremely good feeling to bring justice," said Sullivan.
Contact James Beaty at firstname.lastname@example.org