BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A southwestern Illinois man convicted of fatally beating his live-in girlfriend's 6-year-old son on Christmas Eve 2005 has been sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
Before the sentence was handed down Monday, 39-year-old Lee Crutchfield vowed to keep fighting to prove his innocence.
Crutchfield spent nearly six years in custody before being convicted in December of first-degree murder in the death of Ryon Smith.
Smith's body was found on the bedroom floor of the home Crutchfield shared with the boy's mother. Authorities say the child had been repeatedly beaten and that he died of blunt trauma to the head and torso.
Crutchfield argued the boy died after an epileptic seizure.
Prosecutors said Crutchfield tortured Ryon, locked him in a closet for days and beat him, leaving bruises.
Information from: Belleville News-Democrat, http://www.bnd.com
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