John Sanders (Booking Photo)

John Sanders (Booking Photo)

LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A 38-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole after being convicted of murder in the 2013 death of his 3-month-old daughter in Lansing.

John H. Sanders was given the mandatory punishment in the case Wednesday after earlier being convicted of first-degree felony murder and first-degree child abuse. Sanders told the court he’s an “innocent man” and will appeal.

According to his statements to police and others, Sanders was alone with his 3-month-old daughter Ja’Nayjah the morning of Jan. 4, 2013, when she suffered violent head injuries and stopped breathing. He didn’t give an explanation of how she was hurt.

During the trial, defense lawyer Joe Ernst suggested that the child’s injuries could have been accidental or caused by someone else. Shamarrie Kittle, Ja’Nayjah’s mother and Sander’s ex-girlfriend, she believes he is innocent.

“No one can convince me that the man standing over there killed my daughter,” Kittle told the Lansing State Journal. “No one knows him like I did.”

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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