Her eyes seemed to carry the weight of the last four years. Her voice, softly broke the silence of the courtroom here in Scottsville, Kentucky as Amy Doolin conveyed the pain of losing her only daughter Gabriela.
But it was Gabbi’s father, Bryan Doolin, who would ultimately become overwhelmed with the emotion of losing his little girl. He was so overcome with emotion, the judge was forced to clear the courtroom in an effort to calm tempers as emotions ran raw.
“Gabbi” as she was more affectionately known in the southern Kentucky town, was just 7 years old when her life was cut short on November 15, 2015. The young cheerleader had been attending her brother’s football game at the Allen County Scottsville High School, when she was taken into the woods.
It was there that Timothy Madden carried out the crime which shook this community to its core.
Having plead guilty to the crime last month, it wasn’t until Wednesday’s sentencing hearing that we finally began to learn how truly horrific the last few moments of Gabbi’s life were. On the stand, detectives explained that Gabbi’s cause of death was manual strangulation and drowning. Police had found her little body in a small pond behind the football field where she had gone to cheer for her brother.
For the first time, investigators also detailed how they were able to piece together the crime and narrow down their search to Timothy Madden as a suspect. After Gabbi was reported missing, officials gathered everyone who was at the football game that night into the high school gym. Interviews eventually lead them to believe Madden may have somehow been involved. The day after Gabbi’s funeral, DNA test confirmed their suspicions.
Blood which had been found on Madden’s underwear and belt matched DNA samples taken from Gabbi through a sexual assault kit.
Not only had Gabbi been murdered but she had also been raped.
While these disturbing new details about Gabbi’s death rattled those in court, it was Gabbi’s mom, Amy, who seemed to move most of the room to tears as she described in painful detail what it was like losing her only daughter.
“Because of you, we lost our baby girl. Our boys lost their sister. Before she was even 8 years old, you took her from us,” Amy Doolin said as he took the stand to give her victim impact statement.
Initially, prosecutors had considered the death penalty for her daughter’s killer, but that was taken off the table when Timothy Madden entered a guilty plea. Today, Gabbi’s family was focused on getting the harshest possible sentence for Timothy Madden.
Amy Doolin spoke about her little cheerleader who had gone to the concession stand that night in November and never come back.
At one point Amy Doolin, standing just feet away from her daughter’s killer, attempted to address him directly.
“Why did you do it? There’s no reason you can give, Gabbi was an innocent little girl at her brother’s football game,” Amy said as she wept.
But as she spoke, it appeared Timothy Madden was turning his attention elsewhere, specifically his attorney sitting next to him. Gabbi’s father, Bryan, then spoke up to address Madden and his attorney saying, "Sir, that's the most disrespectful thing I've ever seen...We've had four years waiting, you can let him listen to what she has to say. Do you understand me?"
Suddenly, Bryan become overwhelmed with emotion and appeared to lurch forward toward his daughters killer while yelling, “Three minutes! That’s all we’ve asked. You can listen to her for three minutes! I’m sick of this. He needs to hear what she has to say!”
As he was speaking, the judge addressed the bailiffs asking them to take a brief recess and to escort both Madden and Bryan out of the courtroom. Yet, it didn't happen quick enough because chaos quickly erupted in the courtroom not only between Gabbi's parents and Madden, but also between other family and friends in the back of the courtroom.
In an attempt to maintain decorum the judge began yelling. “Ladies and gentleman, stop this all of you, now! This girl deserves better than this!”
Eventually Madden and Gabbi’s family were both ordered to leave the courtroom as the judge determined how the sentencing hearing would move forward.
After the recess, the hearing resumed with Gabbi's mother finishing her statement. A family member also made a statement on behalf of Madden, saying he was a loving person who was always there for their family.
In the end, Madden was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
During the hearing, the judge said a jury likely would have sentenced Madden to death, but the family agreed to accept his plea deal. And Commonwealth Attorney Corey Morgan spoke to that choice in a press conference following the hearing.
"There would have been the death penalty given. I have no question in my mind. But at the same time, you have years and years of appeals. The family understood that and the family at this juncture is looking toward having closure - as I said before you can't have complete closure on a heinous crime like this, but they do need to be able to move forward with their lives and they would not have been able to do that..."
Back in September, Timothy Madden pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murdering Gabbi Doolin at a youth football game in Allen County in 2015. He will serve life in prison without parole. However, during sentencing Madden maintained his innocence.
"Mr. Madden entered the plea because it was the right thing to do for himself and for the victim's family and for everybody involved including the community," said Madden's attorney Tom Griffiths in a press conference.