Commonwealth v. Julie M. Calahan; Mother Sentenced to 15 Years for Abuse of Child, Death of Infant

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Harvey L. Bryant, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, announced today that Julie M. Calahan, 24 years old, who previously resided in Brinkley, Arkansas, was sentenced today by Circuit Court Judge Edward W. Hanson Jr. for Voluntary Manslaughter and Child Abuse.  Judge Hanson sentenced Calahan to twenty (20) years in prison with five (5) suspended leaving 15 to serve.   The sentence was over twice the high-end of the recommended Virginia State Sentencing Guidelines.


Calahan pled guilty on August 14, 2012.  Had this matter gone to trial, the Commonwealth’s evidence would have proved that in December 2008, Child Protective Services began an investigation after Julie Calahan’s 4-year-old son was brought to the hospital for severe bruises.  After the investigation by CPS, the child returned home until April 8, 2009, when he was again brought to the hospital with inflicted injuries.  This time, he had a ruptured intestine requiring surgery.    He went into foster care when released from the hospital.  An 11-month-old daughter, Lakeira, remained in the care of the Calahans.  An uncle, Stephen Calahan, moved from Arkansas to assist Julie and her husband with the care of Lakeira.


On the morning of May 4, 2009, Stephen found Lakeira unresponsive.  He waited about an hour before seeking medical treatment for Lakeira.  She was eventually transported to the hospital and was pronounced dead two days later.  Julie Calahan told investigating officers that Lakeira was fine in the morning and remained in the sole care of Stephen while Julie worked all day.  Initial investigation led to the arrest of Stephen for murder and child neglect. After Stephen was in jail for more than seven (7) months awaiting trial, the Commonwealth’s Attorney assigned to the case moved to have the murder charge withdrawn due to inconclusive medical evidence regarding the time of the injuries.  Stephen pled guilty to child neglect and was sentenced to one (1) year in prison for failure to seek medical treatment for Lakeira.


While Stephen’s case was pending, Julie and her husband moved to Arkansas.  Approximately two years later, Julie Calahan told a friend over Facebook that she caused the injuries to her son and the death of Lakeira.   This information was conveyed to detectives in Virginia Beach, who went to Arkansas twice to interview Julie.  Julie ultimately admitted to shaking Lakeira multiple times, causing a fracture to Lakeira’s skull.  Additionally, Julie admitted striking the 4-year-old and causing the injuries that led to his hospitalization and surgery approximately one month prior to Lakeira’s death.    


“The detectives who persisted in pursuing this case are to be commended,” Bryant said.  “Their efforts resulted in justice for Lakeira’s tragic, horrible death.”


The case was prosecuted by Associate Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael D. Defricke and Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney L. Diane Nelms.  Please contact Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.