The man who admitted killing his girlfriend and her older son in their Cheektowaga home last September will spend the next 50 years to life in prison.
Shane Stevenson was sentenced in State Supreme Court on Wednesday to two consecutive 25-years-to-life terms by Justice Russell Buscaglia. Stevenson pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his girlfriend, 30-year-old Raina Voll, and her 7-year-old son, Leo Klinger, in the apartment they shared. Voll's other child, age 2, was found abandoned but unharmed at a nearby church.
Relatives of the victims called Stevenson a "monster" in court. Judge Buscaglia said he could not find any reason not to give Stevenson the maximum sentence.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn expressed similar feelings in a news conference following the sentencing. Flynn explained that while Stevenson could have faced first-degree murder charges, the plea deal in this case ensures a lengthy prison term.
"By allowing Mr. Stevenson to plead guilty to murder in the second degree, due to this unique circumstance of murdering two people, we were able to have an actual maximum sentence of 50 to life," Flynn said. "Which is a higher sentence than he could have gotten for murder in the first degree."
Flynn added that the plea deal spares the victims' families from the pain of having to revisit the details of the killings during a criminal trial.
The DA thanked and congratulated the Cheektowaga police officers who stood at his side but did not speak. While saying any murder case is difficult, this was especially tough given the fact one of the victims was a child.
"One of the lives was a 7-year-0ld boy who never had the chance to have an eighth birthday party," said Flynn, who has five children of his own. "He never had a chance to play baseball. He never had a chance to do anything, to grow up and go to high school, go to prom."
Neither Stevenson's attorney nor any family members offered comments to broadcast reporters as they left the corridor outside the courtroom.