Stepfather gets prison for abuse, death of toddler

Southwest Michigan
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DOWAGIAC, Mich. (WOOD) — A Dowagiac man charged with manslaughter and second-degree child abuse in the death of his 2-year-old stepdaughter will spend up to a decade in prison.

A judge Friday sentenced Lance Aaron Reeves to 5 to 10 years in prison in connection to the death of 2-year-old Savannah Gardner.

Court records show the toddler died on Oct. 19, 2016. The criminal complaint against Reeves stated he murdered Savannah in Silver Creek Township. The complaint said Reeves broke Savannah’s back and repeatedly and violently shook her.

Michigan State Police arrested Reeves on Jan. 3 at a home on Rush Lake near Hartford, according to Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz.

In August, Reeves pleaded no contest to manslaughter and second-degree child abuse in the case. In turn, prosecutors dropped a second count of second-degree child abuse, as well as charges of open murder and third-degree child abuse.

At his sentencing, Reeves was credited for the 274 days he already served behind bars.

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