DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit father who inspired dozens of people to look for his missing 2-year-old daughter was sentenced to life in prison for her murder Monday while repeatedly insisting that she's still alive.
D'Andre Lane claimed Bianca Jones was abducted during a carjacking a year ago, a tragic, emotional story that led police and volunteers to scour the city's most depressed neighborhoods to look for her during the holiday season.
But investigators soon became skeptical and questioned Lane's credibility. He was convicted of first-degree murder in October after prosecutors said the carjacking was a lie to cover up Bianca's death. Authorities alleged that she was killed with a stick because she wet herself and wasn't toilet-trained.
Bianca's body has never been found.
"You controlled her dead body like a rag doll. ... You figured that a city plagued with violence, understaffed by police — who would care? But you were wrong," Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans said.
Lane, 33, repeatedly professed his innocence and blamed police for an incomplete investigation.
"I did not murder my child. I did not abuse my child. My child is alive," he said.
The judge ejected him from court after he muttered that the case was full of lies.
"Vonda, you're a liar," Lane told Evans, calling her by her first name, as sheriff's deputies escorted him past the bench.
Lane, who has fathered seven children with seven women, told officers during questioning that he had spanked Bianca for wetting herself. He acknowledged "discipline" but denied that it amounted to abuse.
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.
Bianca's mother continues to support Lane. She stood in the courtroom gallery Monday and declared: "The justice system cheated us."
"I want the court to know they made a mistake, and I intend to correct it," Banika Jones said.
Defense attorney Terry Johnson blamed the media for his client's plight, calling it "vigilantism by microphones and cameras." He said there's no evidence that Bianca is dead, only that she's missing.
"This was a case that never should have been brought forth," Johnson told the judge.
Lane has an automatic right to appeal his conviction.
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