The 27-year-old Santa Ana man convicted of second-degree murder in August for squeezing the life out of the 18-month-old daughter of his live-in girlfriend's sister was sentenced today to 31 years to life in state prison.
Juan Carlos Aguilar had also been found guilty of breaking the ribs of his own toddler daughter.
Orange County Superior Court Judge W. Michael Hayes said today that Aguilar "showed a high degree of cruelty, viciousness and callousness," City News Service reports.
Aguilar resided in a Santa Ana apartment with his girlfriend, their 3-year-old daughter, his girlfriend's sister and her 18-month-old daughter, Megan Rodriguez. The morning of July 9, 2011, Aguilar was left in Megan's care as her mother went to work at a Newport Beach hotel and his girlfriend and daughter went to the market.
While alone with Megan, Aguilar squeezed her ribcage with his hands and great force. When his girlfriend and the 3-year-old returned to the apartment around 10:30 a.m., Megan was limp and having trouble breathing. The girlfriend wanted to call police, but Aguilar insisted they drive the girl to the hotel where her mother worked.
After picking up the mother, they all drove to Coastal Community Hospital in Santa Ana. Megan, who arrived with shallow breathing and barely any pulse, was pronounced dead 15 minutes later. She'd suffered bruises and lacerations to her body and face and internal injuries to her lungs, liver and brain. Aguilar was arrested for murder.
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After the Orange County District Attorney's office brought charges against Aguilar, further investigation revealed he had abused "a 2-month-old female relative" by squeezing and fracturing her rib cage. That was revealed to be his daughter during the trial.
Robert Mueller of the Orange County Public Defender's Office argued during the trial there was no evidence to prove his client Aguilar abused Megan or was alone with the toddler, City News Service reports.
But the jury on Aug. 5 found him guilty of second-degree murder, child abuse and assault on a child with force likely to produce great bodily injury resulting in death.