Denver A mourning father and the Routt County community can continue to heal now that the fate of Lisa Lesyshen is known.
Lesyshen was sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder Monday afternoon in a Denver courtroom.
The Routt County woman was accused of shooting and killing her 9-year-old son, Asher, in May 2013 at the Stagecoach home she shared with her estranged husband, Michael Kirlan.
During a preliminary hearing, Kirlan testified that the couple had spoken about separating, and Lesyshen became increasingly upset after she hacked into Kirlan's email just days before the shooting and discovered he was seeing another woman.
Lesyshen, 47, entered her plea during a hearing at the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver. She was being held at the Denver County Jail for medical reasons. After Lesyshen shot Asher, she shot herself in the neck area, which left her paralyzed.
Immediately following the plea announcement, Lesyshen’s sentencing was held, and Judge Michael O’Hara handed down the agreed-upon, 40-year sentence.
"I would imagine, Ms. Lesyshen, that the punishment you're experiencing every day pales to what the court is going to impose here today," O'Hara said.
Lesyshen will receive credit for the 447 days she was in custody leading up to Monday's hearing.
Kirlan was present for the sentencing but did not speak. Lesyshen also chose not to speak and cried as she was asked questions by O'Hara. Her parents and brother sat behind her.
After the sentencing, Kirlan said he was satisfied with the outcome and relieved the community would not have to go through a trial.
"I'm relieved that we're past this," Kirlan said. "I'm very happy that the community and everyone involved did not have to go through a trial, including Lisa. It allows myself and some others to try to move forward with our lives instead of waiting."
Kirlan was unable to say why he thought Lesyshen shot their son.
"I don't know what was in her mind," he said. "I think she was depressed and very angry, and I think it took over, and I think the psychiatric reports will show that she's not insane, but there is no question she wasn't thinking clearly."
Lesyshen’s attorney, public defender Scott Troxell, told O'Hara that their independent psychiatrist found that Lesyshen was not insane when she shot Asher.
Lesyshen, who was facing a three-week trial set to begin Sept. 29, originally was charged with first-degree murder and pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Asher would have been starting fifth grade at Soda Creek Elementary School next week. Kirlan said he thinks about his son every day.
"I want to think about his life, not his death," he said.
As part of the plea agreement, the original charges of first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death were dismissed.
“After consulting with the victim’s family and the investigating agencies, I concluded that this agreement was the best way to bring this tragic case to a close," District Attorney Brett Barkey stated in a press release. "Our hope is that this outcome brings some measure of justice to Asher and his family.”
Since the shooting, Kirlan has been in contact with Lesyshen, and they have talked about the shooting, but he did not plead with her to take the plea deal.
"She made the decision before I was told about it," Kirlan said.
Kirlan said Barkey consulted him about the plea offer, and Kirlan said he fully supported it.
"I don't know if anyone else is in a better position to decide whether justice is served for my son or not, other than me," Kirlan said.
Kirlan lives in Denver now, and with a trial no longer looming, he said he can look more positively toward the future.
"I'm working on it," Kirlan said. "I'm doing as well as I can, I think. I have a lot of support."
Kirlan still travels to Steamboat to visit friends, including Asher's, and Kirlan said it is fun to watch them grow up.
"I love being in Steamboat," Kirlan said. "It's hard, but I love being there. It's my home. It's always going to be my home."
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland
Michael Kirlan speaks after sentencing