MCKINNEY (CBSDFW.COM) – It took a jury 45 minutes to convict Melinda Muniz for the murder of a Plano toddler. A judge then immediately sentenced Muniz to life in prison without the possibility of parole.READ MORE: Fort Worth Residents Concerned About Plans To Replace Nearly 100-Year-Old Forest Park Pool
The verdict comes two weeks after the start of the high-profile murder trial in Collin County. Muniz was convicted of killing her ex-fiancee’s 2-year-old daughter Grace Ford, after he broke up with her.
Muniz was originally set to take the witness stand in her own defense on Monday, but her defense team said that she changed her mind over the weekend. The defense rested without calling any witnesses.
Muniz was arrested by the Plano Police Department just over a year ago. She was engaged to be married to the father of Grace Ford. But, according to investigators, the 2-year-old toddler was killed just hours after the dad broke up with the 26-year-old woman.READ MORE: Cook Children’s Halts Elective Surgeries Due To Staff, Bed Shortages During COVID-19 Surge
An autopsy showed that the toddler was suffocated. The arrest warrant for the case alleged that Muniz staged a robbery in an attempt to cover up what actually took place. Prosecutors told the jury that Muniz took the child to a nearby store to buy duct tape and other items used in the murder and to stage a phony assault. Investigators found no evidence to support her robbery story.
Several of the victim’s family members have been inside of the Collin County courtroom throughout the duration of the trial, wearing pink Minnie Mouse ribbons in honor of the toddler.
Grace’s grandfather called the murder a crime against nature, but that he could forgive Muniz.
“You choose to forgive people, you have to go against your emotions, you don’t feel like it. That’s where I was coming from,” said Douglas Reeves, Grace’s maternal grandfather.
Grace’s mother, Emily Reeves Ward spoke briefly to reporters as well about the verdict. “All I want to say is I’m very happy that justice if finally served for my daughter. It has been a long year for me and my family. It has been a heart-breaking year but this is going to bring us closer,” she said.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Vaccines Don't Impact Fertility, But The Virus Does, Doctors Say
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