Ore. man sentenced to life in abuse death of child

AP News
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Posted: Jun 17, 2011 1:57 PM
Ore. man sentenced to life in abuse death of child

A 230-pound man who killed his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter in a brutal wrestling match in which he threw the child across a bed and into a wall has been sentenced to life in prison.

Benjamin James George, 30, of Medford was sentenced Thursday after he was convicted of murder by abuse in the death of Kacy Sue Lunsford, the Mail Tribune reported.

The girl died at a Portland hospital in June 2010, five days after the assault.

Prosecutor David Hoppe said previous episodes of abuse culminated in one night of "ultimate wrestling moves" that left the 30-pound child with collapsed lungs, lacerated liver, internal bleeding and massive head wounds.

Kacy's family cried quietly during the hearing, but they made no statement in court, and left the building immediately.

"Hopefully the verdicts will bring a small measure of solace to Kacy's family," Hoppe said.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Lorenzo Mejia also sentenced George to 7 1/2 years for assault, to run concurrently with the life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

George showed no reaction and expressed no remorse during his sentencing.

Murder by abuse applies when a person, recklessly or with extreme indifference to the value of human life, causes the death of a child younger than 14 through a pattern of abuse, torture or neglect.

After an emotional three-day trial, Hoppe broke down during closing arguments as he discussed the assault.

Hoppe said there were seven previous incidents of abuse, when George had pulled out patches of Kacy's hair, stepped on her and caused her to be terrified of him.

In the final assault, George had thrown Kacy "like a piece of garbage" across a bed and into the bedroom wall, the prosecutor said.

The details came from six hours of taped interviews of George by police, Hoppe said.

"It's a murderer describing how he killed a child," he said.

George's defense attorney, Robert Abel, had argued that George was a victim of genetic mental illness made worse by a traumatic childhood and compounded by a problematic relationship with Kacy's mother, Michelle Lunsford.

The last witness, George's ex-wife, Amanda George, said she tried to break off her relationship with him several times, but George would become suicidal. He constantly accused her of infidelity and eventually became abusive toward her and their two daughters, punching holes in the wall, pushing the children and pulling their hair, she said.

She left him, but George continued to drive past her house and once tried to kick down the door, she said.

"I slept with knives and mace. Eventually I did purchase a gun," she said.

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Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/