- Associated Press - Friday, July 15, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A Helena man has been sentenced to life in prison for what prosecutors called the “tortuous killing” of a 2-year-old girl.

Coleton Christous Coburn, 26, was sentenced Thursday for the July 2015 death of Persephone Aurora Marie Nielson, the daughter of Coburn’s girlfriend.

He entered an Alford plea in December to deliberate homicide, The Independent Record (https://bit.ly/29UFZd3) reported. Under the plea, Coburn did not admit guilt but acknowledged there’s enough evidence to convict him.

Coburn agreed he was responsible for her death, but said he didn’t purposely or knowingly commit the offense.

Defense attorney Craig Shannon asked District Judge Mike Menahan to sentence Coburn to the state mental hospital because he has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. A psychologist testified that brain damage due to Coburn’s mother’s drinking while she was pregnant has led him to have poor impulse control.

Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher said Coburn chose to drink malt liquor and use marijuana while babysitting the girl.

“You have the torturous killing of an innocent 2-year-old girl,” Gallagher said. “There is no crime worse.”

“Some people are just plain evil,” Gallagher said in describing the more than 70 wounds the girl suffered. “Some people are monsters. Some just need to be taken away.”

Menahan denied the defense request for a state hospital sentence, saying there wasn’t enough evidence proving he needed treatment more than incarceration. Coburn would be eligible for parole after serving 30 years in prison.

Coburn apologized and told the court: “I’m not an animal or a monster.”

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Information from: Independent Record, https://www.helenair.com

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