WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX)-It was sentencing day for a young man convicted of raping an eight-year old girl and leaving her for dead in a dumpster. Tuesday Milagro Cunningham, now 21, potentially faced life in prison with no chance of parole.
"She thinks he should be thrown in a pit," said the girl's mother, Machele Humose, when asked in court what her daughter wanted as a sentence.
In May 2005, police found the eight-year old girl at the old Lake Worth landfill. She was clinging to life in a garbage can, which had been tossed into a dumpster and covered with rocks.
"No matter what obstacles or stones you threw her way," Humose addressed Cunningham in court, "she's still a 12-year old wonderful, beautiful, young lady." Humose asked Judge Charles Burton to give Cunningham the maximum sentence, life in prison.
Cunningham's relatives also spoke. They reminded the judge how Cunningham was born to crack-addicted parents in the Bahamas, and is mentally slow. The relatives said he deserved punishment, but asked for leniency.
In pronouncing sentence, Judge Burton said, "There are certain crimes that cross the line." He pointed out Cunningham did nothing to help save his victim. Burton said, "It is my intent that you never get out, that no other child or parent has to be confronted with you." He gave Cunningham life.
After the hearing, Humose, the girl's mother, wiped away tears and said, "I'm just glad he's going to spend the rest of his life in jail and that's what he deserves. No one should ever do a child like that. No one."
As for her daughter, Humose said she suffers from emotional and health issues. "She's got to deal with this for the rest of her life, and the kids aren't making it easy for her," said Humose, referring to children picking on her daughter because of what happened.
"But she's strong," said Humose. "She's a very strong girl. I don't think I could have made it through what she's made it through."
Cunningham's relatives and lawyer declined comment after the hearing. Cunningham has the option of appealing.