DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit father who prosecutors say faked a carjacking to cover up the slaying of his 2-year-old daughter was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder and child abuse.
D'Andre Lane sat silent as the Wayne County Circuit Court jury foreman read the verdicts on both charges. Lane, 32, faces life in prison when sentenced on Nov. 16.
"This has been a very long and very emotional case for everyone involved," Judge Vonda Evans told the court.
Lane told police that his daughter, Bianca Jones, was in the back seat of his car in Detroit's North End neighborhood on Dec. 2 when the vehicle was taken at gunpoint. The car was found less than an hour later, but the girl was no longer inside.
Bianca's body has never been found.
"Nothing is gonna bring her back," said assistant prosecutor Qiana Lillard. "We're just gonna respect the jury's decision, and we're glad they did the right thing."
Prosecutors argued during the trial that Lane beat his daughter to death using a stick wrapped in a towel, disposed of her body, then faked the carjacking to cover up the murder.
Lane, who has fathered seven children with seven women, admitted to officers during questioning that he had spanked the child for wetting herself. Another assistant prosecutor, Carin Goldfarb, told jurors that Lane believed toddlers who have accidents "should be physically punished."
Police and dozens of volunteers scoured city neighborhoods, poking through mounds of trash and in vacant homes and garages calling out Bianca's name. But the searches dwindled after several days and eventually authorities gave up.
The handler of a cadaver-sniffing dog testified at Lane's trial that the dog detected the smell of a body in his car and in Bianca's bedroom.
Defense attorney Terry Johnson said during the trial that prosecutors had uncovered no physical evidence, that Lane had been distraught at his daughter's disappearance and that he had cooperated with police.
"He was as surprised as we were by the verdict, based upon what we believe is a lack of evidence," Johnson said. "We're obviously disappointed. The jury put forth a verdict, and we have to respect that. Mr. Lane still maintains his innocence in this."
An appeals attorney will review the case, he added.