A Long Beach man, who was convicted of the second-degree murder of his 1 1/2-year-old daughter, has been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Ronald A. Willis, 28, was convicted in June in Norwalk Superior Court of the 1983 beating death of his daughter, Mary Lynn. Willis confessed to police that he struck the girl in anger, then placed her body in a dumpster behind his home on Sept. 19, 1983. He at first reported to police that she had been kidnaped, but after a night of intense questioning admitted the beating. He said he did not realize how badly she was hurt until she died.
Willis, an unemployed security guard, was acquitted of first-degree murder at his first trial in January, but the jury deadlocked 9-3 in favor of finding him guilty of second-degree murder. Willis pleaded guilty to second degree murder in January, 1984, but withdrew that plea. Because of the acquittal in 1984, the jury at the second trial did not consider the more severe crime.