Crime

Livingston man convicted of killing 3-year-old Merced girl in hit-and-run sentenced

Isaac Gustave Maldonado, 22, of Livingston, turns to leave the courtroom after appearing before Judge Ronald W. Hansen during a pre-trial conference at the Merced County Superior Courthouse in in Merced, Calif., on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Maldonado has been accused of striking a 3-year-old Merced girl with his car and fleeing the scene on Dec. 4, 2017. On June 11, 2018, he was held to answer for a felony hit-and-run charge.
Isaac Gustave Maldonado, 22, of Livingston, turns to leave the courtroom after appearing before Judge Ronald W. Hansen during a pre-trial conference at the Merced County Superior Courthouse in in Merced, Calif., on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Maldonado has been accused of striking a 3-year-old Merced girl with his car and fleeing the scene on Dec. 4, 2017. On June 11, 2018, he was held to answer for a felony hit-and-run charge. akuhn@mercedsun-star.com

A Livingston man convicted of killing a 3-year-old Merced girl in a hit-and-run collision was sentenced this week to six years in state prison, according to court records.

Isaac Maldonado, 23, in October pleaded no contest to felony charges of a fatal hit-and-run with a prior serious conviction, and vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, for a Dec. 4, 2017, collision that killed 3-year-old Dayveonna Polk as the girl was walking in a crosswalk ahead of her family in the intersection of 18th and R streets in Merced.

Driver Arrested 1
Isaac Maldonado Merced Police Department

Prior to Monday’s sentencing hearing, Maldonado was facing four to eight years in prison.

Merced County Deputy District Attorney Michael McAfee, who was lead prosecutor in the case, and Dayveonna’s family were hoping for the maximum eight-year sentence. “I understand that no amount of jail time will give the family a sense of justice,” McAfee said. “But I hope the conviction and sentence will give the family of Dayveonna some closure and can help the healing process.”

Maldonado’s attorney, Fresno-based Christopher Caine, thought the mid-range six-year sentence was “fair,” considering Merced County Judge Ronald Hansen didn’t believe Maldonado would reoffend, Caine said.

“I’d like to emphasize the fact that (Maldonado) is extremely remorseful,” Caine said. “My client and I would like to see closure for the victim’s mother.”

Maldonado drove away after striking Dayveonna with his girlfriend’s car, said police, who pieced together surveillance footage from several businesses in the area to identify Maldonado as the driver, according to investigation reports.

Caine said Maldonado panicked after the collision and was distraught because at the time he was on his way to a Modesto hospital worried about his own unborn child and girlfriend, who was admitted and had experienced prior miscarriages.

Dayveonna was taken to Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera after the collision with major injuries, where she later died.

The toddler was remembered as a “friendly” and “lovable” girl who loved to play with dolls and “would go up to everyone,” her cousin told the Sun-Star during a vigil days after the collision.

AK Polk Vigil 1
Candles are placed in the shape of a “D” during a candlelight vigil for 3-year-old Merced resident, Dayveonna Polk, near the intersection of R Street and 18th Street in Merced, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Polk died at Valley Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, after suffering major injuries when she was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Merced on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. Andrew Kuhn akuhn@mercedsun-star.com

Caine said Maldonado hasn’t contacted Dayveonna’s family to say sorry or express his remorse because “he doesn’t want to be accused of influencing the family in any way.”

With Maldonado’s plea to two felony charges, he faced a maximum of eight years instead of four because he had a prior felony strike. According to court records, he pleaded no contest in 2013 to a burglary.

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