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UPDATE: Man to serve 32 years in prison for death of child

By David Seidel, Assistant News Director, dseidel@wdbj7.com
Published On: Mar 14 2014 11:20:30 AM EDT
Updated On: Mar 14 2014 08:59:38 PM EDT

A man who killed a 13-month-old child will spend 32 years in prison

SALEM, Va. -

A man who pleaded guilty to killing a 13 month old child will spend 32 years in prison for the crime.  Preston King was sentenced Friday morning in Roanoke County Circuit Court.

King pleaded guilty to first degree murder last December.  Prosecutors said King so severely injured his girlfriend's daughter on July 22, 2012 that she died two days later.

"Words can't help the situation," King told Judge James Swanson, "but I'm sorry."

A psychologist called King a young man "adrift in life" who was ill-equipped to care for a toddler. "I could easily imagine him being overwhelmed in a parenting situation," Dr. Evan Nelson testified, "particularly when he has no real experience in it and doing something incredibly impulsive."

King originally told police that Veralee Craft had fallen in his workshop while he was fixing a fan. After Craft's body was examined, at least three forensic experts determined she had broken bones all over her body and sustained blunt force trauma to her head. Prosecutors believe King had abused his new girlfriend's daughter in the weeks leading up to her death.