Grandfather needs to be restrained as murder suspect receives mandatory life in prison

Local News

There was drama in the courtroom Thursday as the grandfather of an 18-month-old boy, who was brutally beaten to death, had to be removed.

Keith Cornett was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

It’s a case that dates back two and a half years, but as you’re about to see the emotions are still raw.

After giving an impact statement before sentencing, Richard Wigton had to be restrained and removed from the courtroom as prosecutors began detailing his grandson’s injuries. 

In December of 2016, Keith Cornett brutally beat 18-month-old Hayden Wigton to death in Dell Rapids. Prosecutors say Cornett had been drinking straight whiskey since the early morning. 

Two and a half years later, Cornett was sentenced to mandatory life in prison without parole after pleading guilty to second degree murder. 

Before sentencing the judge asked if he had anything he’d like to say, he replied ‘no’ and neither did his defense lawyers. 

Following the proceedings Thursday, Wigton had calmed down enough to talk with KELOLAND News. 

Don Jorgensen:  I have to ask you why you had to be restrained?
Richard: There were things I hadn’t heard until in there my grandson suffered it wasn’t quick.. 

“This was a horrible and heinous crime, the injuries were horrible, I didn’t bring any public exhibits because they were too graphic in nature,” Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan said. 

McGowan testified in court it was one of the worst cases of abuse he’s ever seen as a prosecutor.  He was attempting to seek the death penalty, until Cornett agreed to plead guilty.

Wigton called Cornett a monster and showed him the urn filled with Hayden’s ashes.

“The reason I brought the ashes, just to show him what we had left, he was 18-months-old, we didn’t have time to get memories,” Wigton said. 

Hayden’s mother, Kristine Wigton, also took the stand and made a brief statement.  She called Cornett an evil person and told him she hated him. 

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