Man who molested, killed toddler gets life sentence, authorities say

A Georgia man has been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole after pleading guilty Thursday to molesting and killing his girlfriend’s toddler daughter two years ago.

Authorities said Dustin Drew Putnal, 29, beat and assaulted 21-month-old Ella Grayce Pointer in Cedartown, Ga., the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

Polk County police said Putnal sexually assaulted the child, who also suffered severe head trauma, Fox 5 Atlanta reported. The toddler died in a hospital Oct. 30, 2016, the report said.

“JusticeforEllaGrayce” became a popular hashtag on social media as investigators “zeroed in” on Putnal, the Journal-Constitution reported.

Putnal was charged one month after the girl’s death, the paper reported.

“We felt like this was an appropriate resolution,” Putnal’s attorney, Gerald Word, told the newspaper. “Mr. Putnal was remorseful and was willing to accept his punishment.”

District Attorney Jack Browning said the resolution of Putnal’s case was with the approval and blessing of Ella Grayce’s family, adding that the case had been a “nightmare for the family,” according to Fox 5.

“Ella’s family has made clear that they approve of this sentence because it brings certain and definite closure, without the worry of appeal-after-appeal-after-appeal over the next unknown number of years,” Browning said in a news release Thursday morning. “(N)ow they can live their lives without the constant fear that Putnal’s conviction might be overturned for some reason and he be allowed to go free.” 

The girl’s grandmother Dorothy Garner had previously reminisced to the station about Ella.

“Ella Grayce was so precious, such a beautiful child. She was always laughing and giggling and playing,” Garner said.

“Ella Grayce was so precious, such a beautiful child. She was always laughing and giggling and playing.”

– Dorothy Garner, grandmother of Ella Grayce

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.

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