By Scott Malone
BOSTON (Reuters) - The man accused of murdering a 2-1/2-year-old girl whose body was found on a Boston beach in 2015, sparking a months-long search for her identity, called the child a "demon" after punching her to death, the girl's mother said on Friday.
"He said it was her time to die, she was a demon," mother Rachelle Bond, 41, testified at the murder trial of her former boyfriend, Michael McCarthy.
McCarthy, 37, is accused of killing Bella Bond by punching her in the stomach and later dumping her body on a beach. The discovery of the toddler's plastic-wrapped body prompted a months-long search for her identity.
It was not the first time he had made such a claim, McCarthy's former friend Michael Sprinsky, testified earlier in the day, saying that McCarthy had said he believed the girl was possessed by demons "all the time."
Bond testified that she walked into her child's bedroom and found McCarthy leaning over and punching the girl, whose head was gray and swollen. He hit her hard enough that she rebounded off the mattress, she testified.
"I just saw her bounce off the bed. She bounced. She bounced up and came back down," Bond said at Suffolk County Superior Court. "I picked her up to get out of there and he grabbed me by the throat and he told me he'd kill me."
Bond, who said she had long been addicted to drugs, described passing out and drifting in and out of consciousness over the following day, at one point recalling McCarthy injecting her with heroin. He woke her up at an indeterminate time after the killing to bring her to dump the girl's body.
Bond, who pleaded guilty in February to being an accessory to murder after the fact, described a troubled and rootless youth, which saw her turn to illegal drugs at a young age, give birth to several children before Bella who were taken away by the state and rack up a long list of drug, theft and prostitution convictions.
McCarthy is charged with first-degree murder and would face a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole if convicted.
The trial's outcome will likely hinge on whether the jury believes Rachelle Bond's account, and the judge warned jurors to take care in assessing her credibility, noting that prosecutors did not know if she was telling the truth in her testimony.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Alistair Bell)