A man was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison Thursday in the beating death of his girlfriend's 2-year-old son in 2013, bringing some closure for the victim's heartbroken family.
It's been nearly three years since Olivia Taccati's son, Xzavier, died. But the pain in her heart is just as deep today as it was the day he died.
"He's a wonderful baby, a great spirit," Taccati said. "I just can't believe he's gone."
In April 2013, Xzavier lost consciousness at Taccati's Ontario, California, apartment. She was at work and her boyfriend, Michael Lucero, was watching the toddler.
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Doctors tried desperately to keep Xzavier alive, but he didn't make it. The medical examiner later ruled his death a homicide, saying Xzavier had a skull fracture and internal injuries consistent with child abuse.
"He was beaten, he didn't look the same," Taccati said. "When I saw him, that's not how my son looked the last time I saw him."
Taccati said Lucero, a former Marine, was angry that Xzavier was sick and didn't want to take care of him. She said that's what led to the beating.
Lucero claimed he was innocent, but a San Bernardino County jury disagreed. A judge gave Lucero the maximum sentence.
Family members, including Xzavier's grandmother, read victim impact statements in court Thursday and were surprised by Lucero's apparent lack of emotion.
"To be so cold and so callous like there's not a care in the world, it's so difficult because every moment's been so painful for us," said the grandmother, Cyndi Taccati.
During sentencing, Lucero's sisters also took the stand, saying that this family is standing by him.