Samantha Runnion Killer

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

A man convicted of killing a five-year old California girl is expected to find out today if he'll be sentenced to death.

Alejandra Avila was convicted in the 2002 death of Samantha Runnion, who was seized kicking and screaming outside her Stanton home.

A judge formally sentences him today after a jury recommended the death penalty in May.

It's extremely rare for a judge to set aside such a recommendation.

Defense attorneys had urged jurors to spare Avila's life. They claim the abduction was prompted by a brutal childhood in which Avila was beaten by his father, raped by an uncle and neglected by his mother.

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