Fayette County

Lexington man gets 20 years in toddler's death

Leamon Wesner, found guilty of killing his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter, was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison.

Wesner, a tattoo artist from Ohio, was convicted by a jury in September of wanton murder in the Nov. 25, 2008, death of Jessica Nolan, the daughter of Jackie Nolan.

The jury recommended a 20-year sentence for Wesner, and, under Kentucky law, Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine had no choice but to give him 20 years, Wesner's attorney, Robert Friedman said. The jury's recommendation is the minimum sentence on a wanton murder conviction, he said.

Under the law, Wesner cannot be considered for probation.

"The court had absolutely no discretion," Friedman said. He said an appeal would be filed in the case.

Jessica Nolan died after being removed from life support. She had head injuries, multiple bruises and a torn muscle in her spine, according to witnesses at the trial.

Wesner, 32, who has several children of his own, began living with Jackie and Jessica Nolan several weeks before Jessica's death.

He said during his trial that earlier on Nov. 25, 2008, Jessica fell out of a bathtub and hit her head, he gave her a "love tap" type of smack, and he fell on top of her while he was trying to do a skateboard maneuver inside their Lexington apartment. He said he did not intentionally hurt the child.

But prosecutors said there were discrepancies in Wesner's statements to investigators and in his testimony.

Just before he was sentenced, Wesner read a statement, saying he made sure Jessica got everything she needed, including food and clothing, and he would never do anything intentionally to hurt her.

Wesner told the judge he "crumbled inside" when he heard of Jessica's death. He asked Jackie Nolan to forgive him and said Jessica would always be in his heart and prayers.

"I should have known better than to be skating in the house," he said.