A Tampa Bay area man convicted of killing his former girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter is facing a possible death sentence.
A Pinellas County jury convicted 29-year-old Joel Cruz on Thursday of first-degree murder. The panel will reconvene next week to recommend either life in prison or the death penalty. A judge will make the final decision.
Authorities say Ananhie Fernandez was repeatedly beaten while in Cruz's care in May 2013. Cruz had put the girl to bed, but when the girl's mother discovered the injuries, she had Cruz take them to the hospital, where the girl died.
Cruz had tried to claim the injuries came from a fall, but the medical examiner testified the injuries couldn't have been an accident.