The Richmond Register

Local News

September 14, 2012

Couple sentenced in beating death of infant

Plea deal eliminates chance for appeals

RICHMOND — If Serenity Dawes were alive today, she’d be about three months shy of her second birthday.

She’d be walking and running, saying new words every day and enjoying things like Sesame Street, ice cream and dolls.

Instead, her father and mother, William and Diana Dawes, were sentenced Thursday in her beating death last year when Serenity was just 7 months old.

William Dawes, 28, pleaded guilty last month to murder and first-degree criminal abuse, and Diana Dawes, 28, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and first-degree criminal abuse.

Diana Dawes originally had been charged with complicity to murder, but the charge was amended in exchange for her guilty plea.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Smith recommended sentences of 35 years in prison for the father and 25 years for the mother.

In Madison Circuit Court on Thursday, Senior Judge Julia Adams agreed and sentenced the Dawes as recommended.

Adams, who retired as a 25th Judicial Circuit judge in 2008, was filling in Thursday for Judge Jean Chenault Logue.

“Nothing we can do in court will ever be enough,” Smith said after the sentencing when asked whether justice had been achieved for Serenity.

However, Smith said the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office was glad the case was resolved without a trial because that eliminates any chance for the Daweses to appeal their sentences.

Serenity was rushed to the hospital June 29, 2011, when she stopped breathing while at her Richmond home with her father, according to the Kentucky State Police. She was placed on life support at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, but there were no signs of brain activity.

Serenity died the next day.

During the change-of-plea hearing last month, Smith said Serenity’s autopsy showed she had multiple injuries, including a broken leg, two broken ribs, a grab or ligature bruise are her arm, bruising on her body and her brain in parts was "liquefied."

The official cause of death was complications from blunt force trauma, according to the medical examiner.

Smith said the evidence showed that Williams Dawes inflicted the injuries on his baby while Diana Dawes didn’t report the abuse or seek medical attention for her child.

Under Kentucky law, the Dawes were not eligible for the death penalty if they had both been convicted on murder charges. The maximum sentence they could have received was life in prison.

Smith pointed out that often in cases where parents kill their children, there’s no one to give a victim-impact statement to the judge at sentencing. So Smith said she had prepared a packet of information for Judge Adams to consider that included the medical examiner’s autopsy report and pictures of the conditions under which Serenity had lived as well as photos of her in the hospital shortly before she died.

“I was pointing out her injuries and asking that the parole board never, ever parole them,” Smith said.

After the sentencing, Smith also wanted to thank two people whose “very good work” helped prosecutors compile evidence in the case. They were social worker Karensa Johnson and Kentucky State Police Detective Joie Peters (retired).

Sarah Hogsed can be reached at shogsed@richmondregister.com or 624-6694.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 7-27 HeartChase 1.jpg A race to the finish line

    Sheltered by overcast sky and supported by a cool breeze, teams competed Saturday morning in the second annual HeartChase at Richmond Centre.

    July 26, 2014 6 Photos

  • 7-27 Hops 1.jpg Hops & Vine Festival raises money for humane society

    Downtown Richmond’s Hops and Vine Festival started more than two years ago with a question.

    July 26, 2014 3 Photos

  • Bill Clinton will stump for Grimes in eastern Kentucky

    Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is again calling in the “Big Dog” in her quest to unseat five-term Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

    Former President Bill Clinton will join Grimes on Aug. 6 for a campaign rally in eastern Kentucky, according to a campaign official who would provide no further details.

    July 26, 2014

  • 7-26 Stockyards 2.jpg Cattle farmers enjoying ‛perfect storm’

    Demand is up, and cattle are selling for record prices.

    At the same time, corn prices are down and fuel prices have stabilized.

    That adds up to a “perfect storm” for Kentucky cattle farmers, said Gary Kelly of Paint Lick as he ate lunch Friday with his brother Jimmy at the restaurant across from the Blue Grass Stockyards.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • 7-26 Fire Practice Structure 1.jpg Fire training tower going up

    A new training tower for the Richmond Fire Department is rising on Four Mile Road.

    Construction began Thursday on the four-story, steel-framed structure.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • Pavement work to restrict I-75 in Rockcastle County

    Beginning Sunday until about the end of November, Interstate 75 in Rockcastle County will be reduced to one lane in each direction between mile points 58 and 66 for pavement work.

    July 26, 2014

  • Jailed woman charged with heroin trafficking

    A Richmond woman already jailed on another charge was served with a drug trafficking warrant Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

  • County’s jobless rate improves

    Madison County’s unemployment rate for June, 6.5 percent, was a full percentage point lower than a year earlier and 0.2 points lower than in May.

    July 24, 2014

  • 7-25 Camp Invention 1.jpg Young inventors turn trash to treasure

    The first day of Camp Invention began with a room full of objects ready to be recycled, Sarah Shaffer, director of the camp said Thursday.

    July 24, 2014 6 Photos

  • 7-25 William Gilbert.jpg Four arrested on meth charges at Berea motel

    Berea Police arrested four people Wednesday at the Knights Inn on Chestnut Street, including a man they said tried to conceal a meth lab on his person.

    July 24, 2014 5 Photos

AP Video
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Madison County’s three local governing bodies ban smoking in indoor public places?

Yes
No
     View Results