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Judge sentences man to 10 years in deaths of police officer, pedestrian

Jerron Lightfoot.JPG
Posted at 1:37 PM, Apr 24, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-24 18:11:22-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Jackson County judge Wednesday sentenced Jerron Lightfoot to 10 years in prison in connection to a February 2023 crash that left a Kansas City, Missouri, police officer, pedestrian and police K-9 dead.

As part of a plea agreement, Lightfoot pleaded guilty in February to two counts of felony first-degree involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of KCPD Ofc. James Muhlbauer and Jesse Eckes.

Lightfoot was sentenced to a 10-year prison term for each of the charges. However, as part of the plea agreement, the sentences will be served concurrently.

Lightfoot also received credit for the last year he has spent on house arrest.

Following the sentencing, Lightfoot was handcuffed and taken into custody.

"While Mr. Lightfoot never intended to harm anyone, he recognizes his reckless driving caused suffering for all the families involved and for the community," Lance Sandange, an attorney representing Lightfoot, said in a statement provided to KSHB 41 News. "Mr. Lightfoot accepts the court's sentence and hopes it will be another step in the healing process of all those impacted by his actions."

KSHB 41 News reporter Abby Dodge was in the courtroom Wednesday morning as Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Sarah Castle heard victim impact statements from families and prosecutors.

The halls of the courthouse were filled with KCPD officers in support of Muhlbauer.

"The Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department and I will continue to be there and support the Muhlbauer family as they navigate this tragedy," KCPD Chief Stacey Graves said in a statement. "I am thankful for the efforts of the Jackson County prosecutors who worked tirelessly throughout this criminal proceeding. I also have the greatest admiration for the Traffic Division Detectives and Investigators who had the unenviable task of investigating the death of their friend and co-worker, his K-9 partner and the innocent bystander who all lost their lives in this senseless tragedy."

Lightfoot was also surrounded by friends and family during the proceedings.

LINK | Community remembers KCPD Officer Muhlbauer

The state finished its presentation around 11 a.m. before the defense presented evidence or statements.

The judge handed down the sentence around 1:30 p.m.

The wife of Ofc. Muhlbauer spoke to the press Wednesday afternoon and stated she was happy with the court's decision.

“We will continue to live day-to-day and see where the next chapter takes us,” she said.

When KSHB 41 News reporter Abby Dodge asked Cassie Muhlbauer what her path to healing looks like after this case, she stated they are still digesting Wednesday's events.

Lightfoot read a statement in court stating he takes responsibility for what happened.

He also got emotional when he described how he is coping with this incident, saying he can hardly live with himself.

In the future, Lightfoot said he hopes the victims’ families can forgive him for his actions.

“Currently I do not think I can forgive him," Cassie Muhlbauer said after sentencing. "But maybe in time.”

Eckes' children filed a wrongful death lawsuit last year against Lightfoot.

A Jackson County Circuit Court judge approved a settlement last July, awarding the family $100,000.

RELATED | Jesse Eckes' children file wrongful-death lawsuit against Jerron Lightfoot