Bella Seachrist was found dead in 2020 and on the last day of Jose Eduardo Salazar-Ortiz’s trial, a pediatrician said Bella was “tortured” and that she “looked like a child out of a concentration camp” before she died, WPXI reported.
On May 11, Judge Bruce Beemer found Salazar-Ortiz guilty of third-degree murder in the non-jury trial.
Salazar-Ortiz’s defense attorney, Blaine Jones, told WPXI, “I think legally speaking, we saved him. He could have been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole today.”
Jones added, “This case was tremendously difficult both legally and as a human being. At the end of the day, you have a 3-year-old who died.”
During the trial, prosecutors showed text messages where Bella’s father and stepmother called the little girl “ugly” and an “animal.”
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Investigators said Bella slept on a cot in the hallway of the family’s home in Oakmont and she would be punished for having bed-wetting accidents.
Bella was born as a result of an affair that Salazar-Ortiz had with another woman, who lost custody of her, officials said.
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Bella was found dead, bruised and severely malnourished in a bathtub inside the family’s home, medics said.
There were no family members in court on behalf of Bella and it’s unclear where her biological mother is, WPXI reported.
Salazar-Ortiz is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 8, authorities said.
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