A fight broke out after the sentencing hearing for Troy Laufenberg, the Monona man accused of injuring his girlfriend's toddler in July.
At Laufenberg's sentencing Tuesday at the Clayton County courthouse in Elkader, county prosecutor Al Heavens asked for the maximum sentence of 14 years behind bars for the three counts against Laufenberg, and the judge agreed.
Laufenberg pleaded guilty on Dec. 3 to two counts of child endangerment for having methamphetamine in the Monona apartment he shared with his girlfriend Emily Voshell, a baby the two had together and Voshell's toddler from a previous relationship, Myah Larson.
Last week, a judge also found Laufenberg guilty of one count of child endangerment causing serious bodily injury for what happened to Myah. In July, she was found in the apartment with life-threatening injuries. She is still fighting for survival.
Laufenberg's attorney said in court Tuesday Laufenberg maintains he didn't injure Myah but that she fell down a steep staircase in the apartment, after he left open a door to the stairs. For leaving the door open, the defense attorney said, Laufenberg claims responsibility.
The claim visibly enraged Myah's family members in the courtroom, who say they believe Laufenberg is lying about that and that he beat Myah.
"I don't think that 14 (years) is enough for what you did...because Myah didn't deserve that," Voshell said during her victim impact statement, leaning forward in her chair to tell Laufenberg, "I honestly think that you're safer in prison."
"I really hate you," she went on to say. "You don't deserve to be a dad. You didn't know how to be a dad."
Myah's father Matthew Larson also give a victim impact statement to the court.
"It is not my place to forgive him, nor can I yet; not until the day he can show some glimpse (of) remorse for what he has taken from my daughter," Larson said. "I love my daughter more than life itself, and that man almost took that life away from me."
Laufenberg took his legal opportunity to speak.
"It was my life, too. It was my family, too. I was raising Myah," he said. "I'm sorry what happened."
As officials led Laufenberg out of the courtroom, Voshell and Larson both called out to him, saying, "I hope you have fun in prison," and, "You're worthless," among other statements.
After court, Myah's paternal great-grandmother Joanne Larson said she doesn't feel 14 years is an adequate punishment for Laufenberg.
"That poor little girl is fighting so hard for her life, and he sits up there with a smug grin on his face. It just makes my skin crawl," Larson said. "I just hope there's somebody in prison that don't like child abusers, because he'll deserve every bit he gets."
The fight broke out shortly after that. Myah's paternal grandmother and aunt called Voshell a drug user and blamed her for putting Myah in a position to be hurt by Laufenberg. Both sides hurled expletives.
"My daughter is suffering! Wake your eyes up!" Voshell's mother said to Matthew Larson as she physically restrained her daughter.
"And I'm not?? And I'm not *** suffering??" Larson replied. "If she *** cared, she wouldn't be doing drugs!"
"She's not doing drugs, Matt," one of Voshell's family members replied.
Myah will turn two at the end of the month and continues to fight for survival. Family members say doctors tell them the toddler will have severe physical impairments for the rest of her life.
Joanne Larson said Myah's dad is in the process of becoming Myah's sole guardian and the daughter Voshell had with Laufenberg is in foster care.
Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Sandy Youngblut at 319-291-1259. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at firstname.lastname@example.org.