By JOY JUEDES
An Indio man who killed his live-in girlfriend’s 17-month- old daughter was sentenced today to 25 years to life in prison.
Anthony Pacheco, 27, was convicted in May of second-degree murder and assault on a child with great bodily injury for the Oct. 25, 2008, death of Mya Whitman.
Mya was declared brain dead and removed from life support four days after being taken to a hospital with bruises on her head, arms and legs.
“Mya was one of society’s most vulnerable,” Deputy District Attorney Scot Clark said at the sentencing hearing for Pacheco. ”… It was a cruel way to take care of someone you were supposed to care for.”
He said Pacheco is ”remorseless, even today.”
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Charles E. Stafford said the injuries that caused Mya’s death were severe, ”and I have no doubt Mr. Pacheco was culpable.”
The baby’s mother, Iva Whitman, was not at the sentencing.
Pacheco was the only adult in the couple’s Capricorn Avenue apartment on Oct. 21, 2008, when he called his mother and then paramedics, saying the toddler was unresponsive, according to the prosecution.
He also told a neighbor the child wasn’t breathing, and the neighbor did CPR until paramedics arrived. Paramedics found bruises on the toddler’s head.
Pacheco told one paramedic that the tot had rolled out of bed onto the floor, then said his young niece had hit Mya on the head with a hairbrush, Clark said during the trial.
The toddler had a ”blown pupil,” an indication of head trauma, and doctors at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs also found bruises on her arms and legs that ”coincided with an adult grabbing by force,” Clark said.
When detectives asked Pacheco to reenact what happened, the defendant said he accidentally hit Mya’s head on the bed frame when he picked her up. He said he then tossed her on the bed to wake her up, causing her to strike her head on the headboard, and then he slipped on a toy, dropping the child, the prosecutor said.
“It wouldn’t be from dropping off 18 inches from a bed. It’s more consistent with a baby dropping from a third-floor window,” Clark said of
The prosecution contended that the injuries occurred mid-morning, after the baby’s mother left the home.
Before handing down the sentence at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, Stafford said he was concerned that they probably
happened ”sometime during the night when both the mother and Mr. Pacheco were present.”
“Part of the puzzle … (is) still missing,” the judge said.
Pacheco testified that he lied to police ”to protect Iva from getting in trouble.” He said that when he was told of Mya’s head injuries, ”the only thing I could think of was Iva did something. I didn’t tell them that.’