PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- A Pueblo family is outraged after a man convicted of child abuse that resulted in the death of a 9-month-old baby in 2009 was released from prison after serving less than half his sentence.
On April 10, 2023, 34-year-old Kevin Buehler was released from a Colorado prison after serving only 13 years of a 32-year prison sentence.
The baby's grandmother told 13 Investigates not only is she confused as to why he was released so early - she claims she wasn't even alerted of his release on parole.
Officers with the Pueblo Police Department found 9-month-old Iyana Perez dead in a garbage can. The baby was killed by her cousin, Kevin Buehler. Buehler was originally charged with 1st degree-murder in Perez's death. However, he took a plea deal down to child abuse resulting in death, a much less severe conviction.
13 Investigates profiled Buehler's case in previous years after the Department of Human Services in Pueblo failed to follow its own policies in placing children in vulnerable homes.
A state report shows Pueblo DHS knew about possible physical abuse involving Iyana's siblings before her death. The Colorado Department of Human Services found Pueblo DHS "did not assure that all the necessary child protection investigations were completed."
Now, 13 years later, Perez's grandmother Snowie Buehler is struggling to understand how her killer is walking the streets of Pueblo this early.
"Thirteen years is not enough," Snowie said. "He broke our family. He didn't just kill her. He killed all of us."
Parole eligibility times are based on the crime people are convicted of. If someone is convicted of a "crime of violence," they are required to spend 75% of their sentence in prison before being parole eligible. People convicted of all other crimes in Colorado, however, are parole eligible at 50% time served.
The Department of Corrections told 13 Investigates that Buehler's conviction of child abuse resulting in death "did not meet the statutory requirements for the 75% rule, and his time was required to be calculated under the 50% rule," according to DOC spokesperson Annie Skinner.
"He killed a baby. She's dead. That's crazy that child abuse resulting in death doesn't mean it's a violent outcome," Snowie questioned. "What's going to stop them from doing it again? What's going to stop just anybody from randomly killing people? That dude got off. Why can't I?"
DOC says Buehler had "earned time and achievement time credit" while in prison. He also had 583 days of credit for time served before he was convicted of Perez's murder. Still, Snowie said she's finding it hard to understand how his time spent in prison is "justice" for anyone.
"It's not fair to that innocent little baby. It's not fair to my family. That little girl deserved better," Snowie said.
Snowie also claims that she wasn't notified that Buehler was released on parole. She learned about his freedom after a family friend saw him eating dinner at a Pueblo restaurant.
According to Colorado law, family members of crime victims, who are enrolled in victims rights act notifications, must be told when the person accused of harming a family member is going to be released from prison.
DOC spokesperson Skinner told 13 Investigates that "victims in the case who were enrolled in the victim notification process were notified by the DOC victim’s services team."
However, in emails obtained by 13 Investigates, the Department of Corrections admits that Snowie received multiple notifications "late."
Below is an email from a member of DOC's "Victims Services Unit."
"I'd like to make sure that they are sending out notifications to the right people. My phone number never changed in all these years. My address might have, but I always put a forwarding address, so there's no reason for this. They were negligent in my eyes," Snowie said.
In addition to Buehler's child abuse conviction, he was on probation when he dumped Perez's body inside a Pueblo trash can leaving her there dead.
"He should have done at least 80% of that time being that he was on probation for a violent crime and then he kills a baby. That was like a slap on the wrist to me," Snowie said.
Snowie said she's worried that Buehler will re-offend. She alleges that since being released from being released, he punched his dad during a recent incident. Snowie said she will make it her mission to protect her family from him.
"I believe that he's going to go out there and kill again. I don't know whose child he will get. Maybe it'll be one of his family members. But he is not a changed person and he will do this again. I just guarantee it won't be one of my family members," Snowie said.
Members of Colorado's Parole Board, who are appointed by Governor Jared Polis, to determine who should be released early from prison, have refused to answers our questions about this case.
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