BOISE -- An Idaho man and his ex-girlfriend learned their fates Friday in the death of 8-year-old Robert Manwill in 2009.
First, Daniel Ehrlick was sentenced in a packed Boise courtroom Friday for first-degree murder. Manwill's body was found in an irrigation canal about a week after his disappearance set off a massive search across Boise. He will face two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
"The kind of sentence that might be most appropriate I can't impose," Williamson said. "I can't impose a sentence that he endure the dead bug from someone who weighs five times what he weighs, to have someone drop their knees on to his abdomen. I can't impose the chair. I can't impose the wall. I can't impose the occasional aggravated battery on Mr. Ehrlick. Those things would be considered cruel punishment."
Williamson cited the U.S. Constitution's prohibition of the administration of cruel and unusual punishment.
"But Mr. Ehrlick, in the privacy of his home, committed cruel punishment on Robert, but I can't do that to Mr. Ehrlick. Mr. Ehrlick is entitled to the protection of our Constitution, he has to be treated fairly."
Williamson said the crime did not need to happen, and said she wonders why it did.
"Mr. Ehrlick by his conduct has shown that he did not like Robert. One phone call and Robert's family would have been there to take him to safety, and take him back to people who loved him. As it was, Robert died all alone in substantial pain with no one. No one there to care for him and love him."
Williamson then paused and took a deep breath, clearly feeling the weight of the situation. She addressed the "manner in which Robert was disposed of, as if he were a thing."
"He was just dropped into a canal with rocks in his pocket, where he would sink to the bottom of the canal so no one could find him. He was just a thing to them."
Williamson cited the work of the community and the way the case touched many. She then handed down Ehrlick's sentence, ensuring he will never leave prison as long as he lives.
Separately, the boy's mother, Melissa Jenkins was sentenced to 25 years in prison for her role in the death after pleading guilty earlier.
Jenkins addressed the courtroom before her fate was delivered.
"It’s all true," she said. "Robert Manwill should not be dead. I know that all I had to do was to ask for help (Sob). It's my fault that Robert's not with us. Robert would be with us now if I'd call you (Charles), and I know that. I'm guilty. You're the best dad Robert could ever have had. I should have asked for you to help. I want to go back but I can't. You were a great dad. Please don't blame yourself. You need to blame me."
Williamson noted Jenkins apology.
"Everyone knows, no question about it, you could have prevented the death of your son," Williamson said to a tearful Jenkins. "I'm just not buying it, that you have all this remorse. I just don't think that's sincere. You just didn't care."
Williamson said she would have liked to impose a sentence greater than 25 years, but was limited by law.