Jurors in Massachusetts found the Boston man accused of killing 2-year-old Bella Bond guilty of second-degree murder in her death after reaching a verdict following five days of deliberation and 15 days of testimony in the trial.
With the guilty verdict, Michael McCarthy faces a penalty of life in prison with parole possible after 15 years. He was originally charged with first-degree murder, but the judge also allowed the jury to decide if he was guilty of second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter at the prosecution's request.
Monday's guilty verdict comes two years and one day after the little girl's body was discovered washed ashore on Deer Island in Winthrop.
Bella's mother, Rachelle Bond, pleaded guilty in February to helping dispose of her daughter's body. Under a plea deal, Bond testified for the prosecution, accusing McCarthy of killing her daughter in their Dorchester apartment and then dumping Bella's body in the water in South Boston.
During the trial, McCarthy's attorney painted Bond as Bella's real killer, calling her a "monster." But prosecutors argued that those claims were unfounded.
"It was clear to us that Rachelle Bond loved the little girl, but at the same time, she also let that little girl down terribly," Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley said. "But that doesn't make her a murderer. Michael McCarthy was responsible for her death, and the jury spoke."
Bond testified that she saw McCarthy, who was described as being obsessed with the occult during the trial, beat Bella to death, telling her that her daughter "was a demon."
Both McCarthy and Bond were arrested in September 2015 after Bond told a friend that McCarthy killed Bella, the friend then calling investigators with the tip.
Jurors got the case last Tuesday after listening to 34 witnesses and seeing more than 160 pieces of evidence presented during 15 days of testimony.
McCarthy, 37, never took the stand in his defense. He will be sentenced on Wednesday.
Rachelle Bond is expected to be released from prison after McCarthy's trial in part to her plea deal with prosecutors.
"I could not be more thankful for the work done by the Suffolk District Attorney's Office and our State Police Detective Unit for Suffolk County in holding Bella Bond's killer accountable," Massachusetts State Police Colonel Richard McKeon said in a statement. "They spoke for Bella in so many ways. I am thankful, also, to the jury, who carefully examined the facts and evidence and came to the correct conclusion. This not a joyous day, but it is a necessary one. The verdict cannot bring Bella back, and cannot change the fact that she was failed – colossally and tragically – by the adults in her life. But the verdict is right, and justice has been rightly served upon the person who took this beautiful child’s life."
After Bella's body washed ashore on Deer Island in Winthrop in June 2015, she was only known as "Baby Doe" until three months later, when a tip led to the arrests McCarthy and Bond.
A small group gathered on Sunday to mark the two-year anniversary of the discovery of "Baby Doe." The search for her identity garnered worldwide attention.
Those who held vigil to remember Bella told reporters that they want justice for her young life, which was taken too soon.