CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The man who killed a young mother and her seven-year-old son last fall learned his fate in a State Supreme Court room in Buffalo Wednesday.
Shane Stevenson was sentenced to 50 years-to-life in prison — the maximum sentence he could have received.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder for the deaths of his girlfriend, Raina Voll, 30, and her son, Leo Klinger, last September.
Police found their bodies in their Cheektowaga apartment after Voll’s other son, a two-year-old, was found abandoned in a stroller in a nearby parking lot earlier in the day and officers began investigating.
Prosecutors say Stevenson has confessed to the murders, but has never said why he strangled Voll and Klinger that day. It has been called a “domestic situation”.
Stevenson was originally indicted on two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree murder, but the first-degree murder charge was dropped as part of the plea agreement. A single first degree murder conviction actually could have potentially carried a lower sentence of 20 years to life than the two second degree murder convictions combined.
His 50-year sentence is the combination of consecutive 25-year sentences on the second-degree charges.
During sentencing, the courtroom was packed with Voll’s family. Stevenson said he did a “horrible, ugly thing” and will think of the victims every day.
The judge’s response to Stevenson was that he didn’t know if “horrible” and “ugly” reach “the level of what you’ve done,” adding that the descriptions of Stevenson in the victim impact statements as a “monster” and “demon” didn’t go far enough, either.
Voll’s family expressed relief, and a few family members applauded, in the courtroom after the judge handed down the maximum sentence.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn noted this was a traumatic case for those involved in the investigation and prosecution, and said he was pleased with the resolution. “The fact that we got a guaranteed guilty conviction out of the individual for murder in the second degree and we were able to sparer the family the tragic reliving of this incident, I mean you saw the family in the courtroom today, they were obviously still crying, still very emotional about this incident, not putting this family through the trial was – they were grateful for that,” he said.
Voll’s stepmother, Anna Voll, spoke during the sentencing hearing Wednesday, and described Raina as a great daughter and a great mom. She said Leo was beautiful and smart and asked “What kind of human being could do that to a baby?”
Voll pleaded for the judge to hand down the maximum sentence, warning that she believed if Stevenson were to be released from prison, he would hurt another child.
Stevenson’s attorney declined to comment after the sentencing.