'Please pray for my kids' who saw their brother murdered
A jury recommended Tuesday that Ronald Exantus serve 20 years in prison for assaulting the sisters and father of 6-year-old Logan Tipton, who was stabbed to death in his bed.
Late Monday, the Lexington jury found Exantus not guilty by reason of insanity for the 2015 death of the Versailles kindergartner in the same attack that injured his relatives. On the other hand, the jury found Exantus guilty but mentally ill on the assaults.
“It’s an inconsistent verdict,” said Woodford County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Keith Eardley. “I don’t think it makes legal or logical sense. I’m very disappointed.”
Public defender Bridget Hofler, one of three attorneys on the Exantus defense team, said “The jury returned the only verdict it could under the law. But there is no victory here for anybody. The Tiptons are devastated and we feel for them.”
With the 20-year sentence, Exantus will be eligible for parole before Christmas next year, but that doesn’t mean he would get it.
In front of the jury, Logan’s mother, Heather Pujol Tipton, expressed her frustration with the inconsistent verdicts during the penalty phase of the trial on Tuesday. She said her children “were heartbroken and confused” by the jury’s decision. Her daughter Dakota, who suffered a stab wound to her back in the attack, couldn’t understand it.
“Dakota said, ‘Mommy, if he stabbed me first and then he killed Logan, how is he guilty of stabbing me but he is not guilty of killing Logan? This is coming from a 9-year-old,” Heather Tipton said.
“We have been failed. Justice has not been served for Logan,” she added.
Heather Tipton said she will work to see that victim’s rights are better served in the future.
Meanwhile, at some point a court hearing will be held to commit Exantus to a treatment facility but that probably will not happen until after he serves his prison sentences in the assault convictions, Eardley said.
Exantus, 34, a dialysis nurse, drove from Indianapolis to Versailles, a place he’d never been, entered the unlocked Tipton household before dawn, and stabbed Logan in the head while the boy was in bed on Dec. 7, 2015.
Had he been found guilty of murder, he could have faced the death penalty.
Special Judge Phil Patton will impose sentence April 24 in Versailles. The judge warned that no one was to contact the jurors, although he said jurors can volunteer to talk about the case.