Breaking News
More () »

No one will go to trial for Serenity McKinney's murder; Second suspect takes plea deal

It means no one will go to trial for the 4-year-old girl's murder.

BULLITT COUNTY, Ky. — The man charged with the murder of 4-year-old Serenity McKinney has taken a plea deal and plead guilty. It means no one will go to trial for the girl's murder.

Dakota Hill and Serenity's mother, Catherine "Abby" McKinney, were both charged with Serenity's death. 

Outside of Bullitt County Circuit Court Wednesday, Melody Roller said it was the first time she's heard Dakota Hill's voice after only meeting him once around Christmas 2020, which was the last time she saw her granddaughter, Serenity.

"She was four years old. She was a little girl," Roller said. "What could she have possibly done to deserve any of this? I'll never understand. I don't think anybody will ever understand."

Last month, Catherine took a plea deal removing the murder charge in exchange for her testimony against Hill. 

Kentucky State Police found Serenity's body in West Point, Kentucky in February of 2022.

Autopsy documents showed the 4-year-old was found inside a suitcase filled with a sand-like substance and fractured bones.

Catherine was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Prosecutors are recommending Hill do a 50 year prison sentence.

"While nothing can atone for the crime that was committed, we think 50 years is a just resolution of this case," Bullitt County Commonwealth's Attorney Bailey Taylor said.

"I know I'm accepting the 50 years. Is that justice? Like I said, nothing will ever be justice," Roller said. "They could sentence him to 100 years it will never be enough."

At Catherine's sentencing in April, the judge said horror movies have less impact than what happened to Serenity. As part of her plea, she would have had to testify against Hill -- making those gruesome details public.

"I don't think that that would bring justice to Serenity's memory," Roller said. "I want Serenity to be remembered as her smile, as her playful as her energy, as a child.

Hill will be formally sentenced on July 6. 

Serenity would have been 6 years old in August. Her grandmother plans to continue her public birthday celebration in Shelbyville.

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users.

Have a news tip? Email assign@whas11.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

GET Videos on Demand | Watch WHAS11 on Roku and Amazon Fire TV

Sign up for the WHAS11 newsletter: "WHAS Up Kentuckiana." Get the latest headlines and videos from around Kentuckiana delivered daily to your inbox.

Before You Leave, Check This Out