BATH, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - The Hornell man convicted of biting and beating his girlfriend's 17-month-old baby to death is going to prison for a long time.
The family told 18 News that this long-awaited day means they can finally move forward and try to heal.
"I am hoping now that we can lay Ian down to rest and that we can grieve and mourn the way we were supposed to," Elizabeth McGregor, Ian's great-aunt, said.
These are words of relief by the victim's family now that his killer has been sentenced.
Dakota Miller will serve 25 years to life behind bars for his first charge of second-degree murder. He will also serve 25 years with five years post-release supervision for his second charge of first-degree manslaughter. Both terms will be served concurrently.
"I think he got what he deserves," Jennifer McGregor, Ian's second cousin, said. "He can't hurt another child."
Before the sentence was imposed, Elizabeth gave a statement, in her broken voice, to the courtroom explaining how she has custody of Ian's older sister who now has behavioral issues, nightmares, and goes through counseling.
Codie Baker, Ian's mother, present and in tears, declined to give her own statement. The defendant declined to provide a statement as well.
The defense, disappointed with the conviction back in June, says the sentence was a given.
"There wasn't a heck of a lot of discretion and I'm not terribly surprised at Judge Brian Dennis to give him the maximum," Defense Attorney Thomas Stahr said.
The prosecution hopes the corrections department will not release Miller on parole after serving his minimum sentence of 25 years.
"He will always be a threat," District Attorney Brooks Baker said. "His history indicates he's an escalating violent offender who doesn't care who he hurts or what he does with them."
The family is working to have a positive future for the children.
"I have the siblings and it's going to be a long road for them, and I hope they grow up to be all right, to do alright," Elizabeth said.
At the time of the killing, Codie Baker was pregnant with Miller's son who is now about 19 months old and will grow up without his biological father.
An order of protection was issued to keep Miller away from the family.
The defense plans to file an appeal on the sentence.
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