A jury rejected the prosecution's theory that a 33-year-old man killed his 4-year-old stepdaughter during an act of sodomy and found him guilty Tuesday of second-degree murder, torture and assault causing death on a child under 8.
Roberto Cauchi escaped the first-degree murder charge that would have made him eligible for the death penalty, said Daniel Wright, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case.
"We wanted a sentence where he would never get out at all," Wright said.
Cauchi will face life in prison for the torture charge and 15 years to life each for the assault and the second-degree murder convictions--all with the possibility of parole, according to the district attorney's office.
Sentencing at Los Angeles Superior Court is scheduled for Jan. 31.
The defense had argued that the killing occurred as a result of wild rage from a frustrated, out-of-work man who lost patience with the child but did not sexually abuse her.
"It's important to differentiate between [premeditated murder] and someone who acts out of rage," said Vera Bradford, a public defender who handled the case.
Christina was killed the morning of March 10, 1995, while she and her 1 1/2-month-old sister were being baby-sat by Cauchi at the family's Calvert Street home, according to authorities.
The girl had 70 injuries all over her body, including a broken arm, broken ribs, head and abdominal injuries, Wright said.
Cauchi took the girl's limp body to the Clinica Familia medical facility, where wife Lorena Rodriguez was working.
The girl was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead later that morning.
No charges were filed against the girl's mother.