SANTA ANA (CNS) - A 31-year-old ex-Marine was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in prison for killing his girlfriend's 17-month-old daughter in the city of Orange.
Christopher David Recio pleaded guilty July 7 to second-degree murder.
Recio killed his girlfriend's daughter, Claire Frickenschmidt, Jan. 5, 2019, in the mother's apartment at 3099 W. Chapman Ave., according to grand jury testimony.
Firefighters were called about 5:30 p.m. that day and took the girl to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, according to Sgt. Phil McMullin of the Orange Police Department. The baby sustained trauma to the head, McMullin said.
Recio, who was arrested Jan. 16, 2019, was given credit for 1,459 days in custody, which is about four years.
Claire's grandfather, Steve Ramsay, told Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Menninger that more than 100 people attended the girl's funeral service. He said, "To this day it still feels like a nightmare."
Ramsay said one of the paramedics who carried Claire to the ambulance is still "brought to tears" when passing by the apartment complex.
"Claire would have turned 5 in August of 2022. She would have started kindergarten," Ramsay said.
"Claire touched many lives in the 17 months she was here," Ramsay said. "Claire knew how to make someone's day with a wave and a smile everywhere."
He recounted how the baby once brought an elderly woman to tears of happiness when she smiled and waved at her at a Costco.
"Claire loved music and would pound out a rhythm with her hands," Ramsay said. "She was a happy and content child."
Ramsay said he has cried more in the last four years than he ever has in the years leading up to Claire's death.
He and the girl's mother moved out of Orange County to get distance from all of the "familiar places" that triggered heartbreaking memories.
"I can't even imagine the depth of pain of my daughter every day," Ramsay said.
Recio "deserves to never get out of jail," Ramsay said. "He has shown no remorse."
Recio declined to make a statement before his sentencing.
Menninger told the baby's mother and grandfather, "There's nothing I can say to make you feel better... It's so senseless. There's never an excuse. It's never OK. ... It's a hole that will last forever."
She told the defendant, "I hope you have thought about this. ... This is a senseless killing of a baby and I hope you take that to heart."