The last time Leia Cleeves saw her mother was as she was being murdered by her father, Santucci said.
Holma, his former wife and an emergency room nurse, was killed trying to come to the aid of Brandi and his son, Santucci told the court.
“She died a hero trying to save my son and Brandi,” Santucci said.
“The overwhelming majority of the family wants the case to go to trial and seek the death penalty,” Santucci told the court.
Santucci and others said they also wanted the state to pursue the other charges that were dismissed.
“I think our family deserves an answer to those questions,” Santucci said.
Meyers said he agreed and called a recess. When the hearing resumed, Cleeves made his acknowledgment that his actions were consistent with those charges.
For purposes of sentencing, any sentences for the other charges likely would be merged with the consecutive life sentences, Meyers told the victims’ families.
Authorities have said that Cleeves was locked in a bitter custody battle with Brandi Cleeves before the slayings. Authorities allege that he killed her and Santucci outside Santucci’s home, then killed Holma when she tried to help her son. Cleeves then fled the scene with his daughter.
Cleeves was captured the next day near Youngstown, Ohio, with the girl, who was unharmed.
A Glock 9 mm handgun was recovered when authorities apprehended Cleeves, Pennsylvania State Police wrote in an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.
Kevin and Brandi Cleeves had submitted custody filings in court. According to those documents, the couple began a relationship in September 2005, and Leia was born in December 2007. They married in February 2012 and separated in June 2012.
Online court records from Scottsdale, Ariz., indicate Cleeves was charged with domestic violence in August 2004 and pleaded guilty.
In an amended affidavit of probable cause, Pennsylvania State Police said Cleeves did not finish requirements in an Arizona diversion program and a warrant subsequently was issued. Because of that, state police said Cleeves was not eligible to possess or use a firearm.
Vincent Santucci Sr. questioned how Cleeves was able to obtain a concealed weapons permit in Pennsylvania.
He said he had talked to his son in the days before the murders, and his son told him he contacted police and informed them that Kevin Cleeves had been sending threatening texts and possessed a handgun, Santucci said.
He had contacted Pennsylvania State Police and Waynesboro police about his son’s concerns, but they denied he ever spoke with them, Santucci said after the hearing.
Along with the three life sentences, the terms of the plea agreement call for Cleeves to have no contact with his daughter or the other victims’ family members, Fogal told the court. Contact can only be initiated by Leia Cleeves, at her discretion, once she is an adult, Meyers said during sentencing.
Cleeves also waived his appeal rights as part of the plea agreement, Fogal told the court.
Meyers ordered Cleeves to pay $30,869.46 in restitution to the victims’ families.