GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The jury reached a verdict Monday in William McCullen's murder trial shortly after closing arguments were made in a Cleveland County courtroom.
McCullen was found guilty of first-degree murder by torture in the death of 3-year-old Jordyn Dumont. He was sentenced to serve life in prison without parole.
Dumont, the daughter of his live-in girlfriend, was found buried in a wooded area not too far from the couple's Gaston County home. She was reported missing by McCullen the day before.
Two days after her body was found, preliminary autopsy results indicated her death was caused by blunt force trauma.
Before the state's prosecution team rested its case on Friday, they called one last witness to the stand. It was the medical examiner who performed Jordyn's autopsy. His testimony was to give the jury a clearer idea as to how Jordyn died.
"In my opinion, the cause of death is blunt force injuries due to assault," said Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner Jonathan Privette.
He also said that Jordyn's death was not instant, but that she probably took her last breath minutes after being assaulted.
"William McCullen was killer," the prosecution said during closing arguments Monday. "He didn't plan Jordyn Dumont's death, but his guilt is plain and simple because McCullen tortured the 3-year-old to death by beating and abusing her."
McCullen's defense said Jordyn's death was an accident.
"McCullen is a product of his upbringing as he was taught and endured corporal punishment by his parents growing up. McCullen physically disciplined Jordyn, but didn't mean to kill her."
Jordyn's family declined to comment during the reading of the verdict. McCullen said in court that he wants to repeal the verdict and sentencing.
During Friday's court sessions before the prosecution rested their case, McCullen was asked if he wanted to take the stand. He declined and waived his right to testify.
When the judge asked, McCullen stated jurors already heard previously recorded statements from him throughout the trial so there was no need.