A father was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison on Tuesday for killing his 19-day-old daughter, hiding her body and telling deputies she had been kidnapped as he was baby-sitting her while her mother was at work.
Matthew Brendan Warner was sentenced after pleading no contest to murder charges in the Jan. 23 killing of Ellorah Rose Warner, who died from blunt force trauma.
He cried when Ellorah's mother, Tawni Wallis, Warner's ex-girlfriend, said she forgave him, but only after mustering the strength from God.
"Your choices and selfishness ripped every piece of joy from my life," Wallis said. "You have robbed me of so much and crushed my spirit. There are so many things in Ellorah's life that I will miss.
"I will never know what her first word would have been. I will never watch her take her first steps or hear her laugh. I will never get to pinch her cheeks or kiss her boo-boos to make her better. She will not have her first day of school or learn how to spell her name ... Your choice to use drugs while caring for our daughter has destroyed numerous lives, including your own. I do not know how to pick up the pieces of my life or my broken heart."
The baby's grandmother, Nan Allison, also forgave Warner, but had choice words.
"I have personally witnessed how you seem unable to control your emotions or impulses, most notably your temper," she said. "So it is a good thing that you will be somewhere where others can control this for you."
Allison wore a locket around her neck containing a few strands of baby Ellorah's hair.
"It's so hard for me, when the realization hits me, that this is all I will ever have of her, that there is nothing physical of her that remains," she said.
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Warner's attorney Tom McLarnon said his client pleaded no contest to avoid a lengthy trial.
"He wanted to put this to an end for the sake of the family, for the sake of Tawni," McLarnon said. "He's a young man with a serious drug problem that he's been fighting his whole life."
Warner killed his daughter at the Newhall condo he shared with Wallis, then hid her body, prosecutors said. After he initially told authorities she had been kidnapped, he eventually led officials to her body, found wrapped in towels, inside bags in a truck.
Her parents had gone to the Santa Clarita sheriff's station about 9:30 the previous night to report her missing, triggering an extensive search by police dogs, deputies on foot and helicopter crews in the area near the couple's condominium.
Warner, 30, was charged on Jan. 27 with murder, assault on a child causing death, torture, oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child 10 years or younger and aggravated sexual assault of a child. Those charges were dismissed as a result of his plea.
He's due back in court on Oct. 27 for a restitution hearing.