A judge sentenced a longtime methamphetamine user Thursday to life in prison without possibility of parole for the brutal murder of a 3-year-old east Mesa girl.
Christopher Langin, 34, tearfully apologized to Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Teresa Sanders for the Feb. 8, 2005 slaying of Angelene Plummer, the developmentally delayed daughter of Langin's best friend.
"I'd like to thank the jury for showing me mercy and giving me a life sentence," Langin said. "I am truly sorry about what happened to Angel."
Angelene was covered with bruises from head to toe when Langin, who had been living in a trailer behind the family's house, led her father, Michael Plummer, to her body.
Jurors quickly found Langin guilty of first-degree murder, child abuse and aggravated assault on Sept. 24. They found the slaying was cruel, heinous or depraved after about 45 minutes of deliberations.
But it took jurors nearly two weeks of deliberations to spare Langin from the death penalty. Under Arizona law, that left Sanders to decide whether Langin would get life in prison with or without the possibility of parole.
Jurors said they were emotionally drained by the case and seven returned for the sentence to gain a sense of closure, even after nearly a four-month trial.
"The court notes the excessive brutality in the death of this child," Sanders said while imposing the maximum sentence available under the circumstances.
Among the reasons cited for jurors in sparing Langin from a death sentence was the lack of an explanation for what exactly happened inside the trailer while Langin babysat for Angelene.
There were no witnesses to the beating inflicted by Langin, who admitted only to pushing Angelene. Michael Plummer was sentenced to 18 years in prison a year earlier for allowing Langin, a known drug user, to baby sit the girl unsupervised for nearly 24 hours.
Langin and Plummer had been friends since high school and had used methamphetamine, marijuana and alcohol together numerous times, although Plummer said he had given up meth weeks before his daughter's murder.