ANKENY, IOWA — An Ankeny father whose four-year-old daughter accidentally killed herself with his handgun won’t spend any more time in jail after pleading guilty to his role in her death.

On Thursday a Polk County judge entered a deferred judgement against Akeem Holmes, sentencing him to five years of probation. Holmes had faced up to 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to two felony charges and one misdemeanor.

Savannah Holmes was killed on May 16th, 2022 at her home in Ankeny. Her father, Akeem, had answered the door and left a loaded handgun lying nearby. The girl grabbed hold of the gun and accidentally shot herself in the head – killing her. Akeem Holmes pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter, neglect of a dependent person, and making firearms available to a minor after his arrest following Savannah’s death.

In court on Thursday, the prosecution, defense and the judge agreed there was no punishment that could be imposed on Holmes worse than he’s already served.

“I don’t think its hard for the judge to imagine that Akeem has punished himself and taken responsibility and done more to himself than the court could possibly do,” Holmes’ attorney, Jerry Foxhoven, said of the mental anguish his client has suffered since his daughter died of his carelessness.

“This has been a horrific event for him and his family. It was absolutely foreseeable and could have been prevented,” Polk County prosecutor Mike Salvner told the judge. “But that being said, we can’t go back and change what happened but we can move forward.” That path forward is a deferred sentence that requires no jail time to be served, however Holmes will be placed on probation for five years.

Speaking on his behalf, Holmes told the judge he has accepted what he did – but he and his family may never heal. “The natural consequences of what has occurred is something that myself along with all my loved ones are going to have deal with for the rest of our lives. I accept my responsibility, my portion, my role in what has occurred. It’s just going to be something that we suffer through for the rest of our lives,” Holmes said.

In addition to serving five years of probation, Holmes was also ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to the victim’s family – but that matter remains unsettled. Holmes and Savannah’s mother – the recipient of that restitution – are engaged to be married and she has no interest in collecting the money from him, according to Holmes’ attorney. Judge Jeffrey Farrell told Holmes he is required by law to impose the fine – but there is a post-conviction process for the two sides to which the two sides can agree to erase that debt.

Judge Farrell advised Holmes that he believes he has learned from this tragedy. Further, he hopes Holmes can find a way to use it to help others. “I think you probably have a story to tell that may make a mark on other people as you move forward because you can talk about it from the heart as far as what happened and very directly,” Farrell said, “you can tell the story from your soul and your heart and that can have a lot more impact on people.”