Man sentenced to life in prison for killing toddler in 2011

Michael Alan Lee, convicted in the murder of a 2-year-old, center, looks on next to public defe ...

Brodie Aschenbrenner’s short life began during a snowstorm, five days after Christmas.

“When I first looked at him, my heart has never felt so full and so happy,” Arica Foster said through tears on Monday, recalling her son’s birth.

On June 15, 2011, Brodie was 2 when he was found dead in the apartment Foster shared with her then-boyfriend, Michael Allan Lee. On Monday, a jury sentenced Lee, now 37, to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing the boy.

The three-week trial was the second time Lee has faced a jury in the case. Lee was first sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2014, after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and child abuse with substantial bodily harm.

In 2019, the Nevada Supreme Court reversed his conviction due to an error in jury instructions made during the first trial. The high court ruled that the jury was “improperly instructed that it could find Lee guilty of first-degree murder based on neglect,” according to the Supreme Court order.

But a new jury found Lee guilty of the same charges on Friday.

Losing Brodie shattered Foster’s faith in other people, she said on Monday during the penalty phase of Lee’s trial.

“It felt like somebody just stomped on every piece of life,” she said.

Brodie’s grandfather, Brad Moshier, told the jury that the boy’s death burdened his entire family, especially Foster.

“It destroyed her,” Moshier said. “It took her soul. I don’t think she’s ever been the same.”

Brodie’s death was ruled a homicide, in part due to blunt force abdominal injuries, the Clark County coroner’s office said. He also suffered an acute mild traumatic brain injury due to a blunt force injury of the head.

During Lee’s first trial, prosecutors said Brodie’s mother noticed him bruising “mysteriously” after he was left alone with Lee, starting about two months before the boy’s death.

Lee was alone with Brodie the night of June 14, 2011, after Foster had fallen asleep, prosecutors have said. He was arrested five months after the boy’s death.

On Monday, defense attorney Fikisha Miller played a recording of a conversation Lee had with a police officer on June 15, 2011. Lee told the officer that the boy was sick and had vomited the night before. The man also was heard crying while answering a phone call from his mother, repeating “I don’t know.”

“I put him in the bed, Mom. I put him in the bed with her,” Lee said in the recording.

At the time of Brodie’s death, Lee was on parole for a 2004 conviction in a string of robberies he committed at 17. Miller told the jury that drugs played a role in the armed robberies that Lee and his friends committed from January to March 2002.

Meanwhile, prosecutor John Giordani asked the jury to prevent a parole board from releasing Lee decades in the future.

“Based upon Mr. Lee’s criminal history, and what he did here, he presents a danger to any potential person on the street should he ever see the light of day,” Giordani said.

When Lee addressed the jury on Monday, he asked to receive the lower sentence of 20 to 50 years in prison, so that his family could see him again. He apologized to his family and Brodie’s family but did not admit to any involvement in the boy’s death.

“As you have already found me guilty, I understand that you don’t believe anything that I have to say,” Lee told the jury.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.