KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A metro mother is frightened for her family, upon finding out the man who killed her 11 weeks old baby girl will soon get a parole hearing after spending three years behind bars.
The victim was infant Brenlee Gilbert, and the man convicted of killing her is Alex Gilbert, the baby's father.
Lafayette County, Mo., prosecutors initially charged Gilbert in 2013 with second-degree murder for breaking Brenlee’s bones, fracturing her skull and causing brain damage.
Gilbert later pleaded guilty to lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
“I still have a lot of hate towards him,” said Stephanie Hicklin, Brenlee’s mother and Gilbert’s ex-girlfriend.
“Because he took my daughter`s life away, her future. She will never be able to walk, talk… she never got to have a first birthday or any of that.”
Hicklin has three other children, but said her life feels incomplete without Brenlee.
“She meant everything, you know?” she said. “I carried her for nine months, and I was with her almost every day of her life. She had just started smiling and cooing, and it was my first daughter, like true love right there.”
Hicklin is now even more distraught upon recently receiving a letter from the Missouri Department of Corrections that said Gilbert will get a parole hearing later this month after spending three years in prison.
“I would just be scared every day for my children, for myself, wondering if he`s going to pop up,” Hicklin said.
DOC officials said a parole hearing is a chance to assess Gilbert and doesn't guarantee an early release from his 15-year sentence.
But the mere possibility is shocking to Hicklin, who said she still gets unwanted love letters Gilbert sends from prison.
“It`s just kind of like disturbing,” she said. “It`s like, you know what you`ve done. What is he going to do when he gets out? If he can take the life of his own 11 week old baby, what is he going to try to come do to me or my other children? So it’s just kind of very scary to think about.”
Hicklin is now determined to keep Gilbert behind bars and plans to speak at his parole hearing on Nov. 22 to express her concerns.
“I will never stop being my daughter`s voice,” she said. “I will never stop trying to get justice for her, whatever that may mean. I will never stop trying to spread awareness of child abuse because it`s real. It happens.”
In a letter DOC officials sent to Hicklin, it said parole hearings are routinely scheduled as a means for the parole board to assess individual offenders. They are based on the length of the offender’s sentence. Thus, the shorter the sentence, the sooner the offender can be scheduled for a hearing.
DOC officials said a parole hearing does not mean the offender will be released. Instead, it provides the parole board with an opportunity to assess the offender and make recommendations regarding programs the offender needs to complete.
During a parole hearing, the board reviews the offender’s conduct while in the institution, what programs he has completed and what programs the offender should complete prior to release to the community.
The board also considers information provided by the victim or their family and other relevant information.
After the hearing, the board may schedule the offender for another hearing in one to five years or schedule the offender for a tentative release date up to five years in the future.
For more information on how the process works, click on this link .
If you want to write a letter to the parole board expressing concerns or support for Gilbert’s release, you can email Carol Jo Meyer at Carol.Meyer@doc.mo.gov or mail it to Office of the Director, Office of Victim Services, 3400 Knipp Drive, Jefferson City, Mo., 65109.