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Dayton, Ohio: "This is the most horrific case of abuse and torture that this court has ever seen," Montgomery County Judge Dennis Adkins said during the sentencing of Al-Mutahan McLean on Wednesday, September 27 to at least 51 years in prison.
On September 8, shortly before McLean's trial was scheduled to start he pleaded guilty to murder, kidnapping, rape, and child endangerment charges stemming from the death of his 10-year-old son Takoda Collins in December 2019.
Takoda was pronounced dead at Dayton Children's Hospital and the county coroner determined that he had died from blunt force trauma combined with compressive asphyxia and submersion in water in a bathtub.
Prosecutors alleged that the abuse began in 2015 and included "various types of abuse which escalated into extreme torture."
McLean's lawyers said that their client took responsibility for the boy's death, but denied abusing him for years.
In a sentencing memorandum filed by the prosecution before Wednesday's hearing they said that Takoda was punched, elbowed, stood on with McLean's full weight, and submerged in water until he was heard to gasp for breath.
While the death penalty was not an option for sentencing, prosecutors argued for a sentence of 50 years to life while the defense requested a sentence of 41 years.
"There was certainly purposeful torture," Lynda Dodd, chief prosecutor said in explanation to why the death penalty was not an option. "There was no evidence that he intended to kill Takoda that day, he just intended to horrifically torture him that day that led to his death."
"Although you admit what you did," Judge Adkins said to McLean at sentencing, "I do not believe that you fully understand the depravity of your actions in torturing this innocent child."
"What you did is pure evil. You provided no mercy to your son and deserve no mercy from this court."
McLean was sentenced to 51 years to life and will not be eligible for the possibility of parole until 2072, when he would be 83 years old. If he should be released he will be required to register as a Tier III violent sex offender.
Also sentenced Wednesday were McLean's fiancée 30-year-old Amanda Hinze and her sister, 27-year-old Jennifer Ebert, both of whom lived in the house with Takoda and McLean.
Hinze was sentenced to 22 to 27.5 years in prison after she had plead guilty to engendering children and involuntary manslaughter.
"You are to blame in this case," Judge Adkins told her. "You could have stopped this."
"If I could trade my life for his, I would," Hinze said in court.
Hinze's attorney, Dennis Lieberman told Dayton 24/7 that her sentence was a compromise as he feels his client shows true remorse and understands she could have saved his life.
"That weighs heavily on her and she will live in her own hell while she serves her term in prison and after she gets out," Lieberman said.
Ebert also pleaded guilty to child endangering and involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 8 years in prison for per role in Takoda's death.
Judge Adkins found plenty of blame to go around and expressed his disproval of agencies that failed Takoda.
"I don't blame the teachers at all. They did what they could, but people in authority and administration of protecting our children should do more," Judge Adkins said.
Takoda had been a student at Horrace Mann Elementary until his father pulled him out of school in 2018 to be homeschooled. Before being removed from the school however, teachers at Dayton Public Schools called children serves 17 times to report concerns of abuse.
"I wonder what if the administrators at Dayton Public School system had pushed this issue whether or not there would have been further action," Judge Adkins said.
"Children Services just absolutely dropped the ball on this case," Judge Adkins said. "They were told what was going on, what was suspected of going on, and they merely went through the motions to check on the welfare of Takoda. They were very good at passing the buck and you [McLean] were very good at manipulating Children Services."
This case has resulted in changes in how Dayton Police handle welfare checks on children, policy and training changes at Montgomery County Children Services, and the introduction of legislation at the state level in the form of Ohio House Bill 4.