BOSTON -- The father of a young girl whose remains washed up on a Boston beach in 2015 remembered the girl as "a gift from God" in an emotional victim impact statement Tuesday.
Joseph Amoroso, the father of two-year-old Bella Bond, took the stand in a Massachusetts courtroom just before the girl's convicted killer Michael McCarthy was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years. McCarthy, the ex-boyfriend of the child's mother,in the death of the child, who was known for months only as "Baby Doe" as millions shared her composite image on social media and authorities struggled to identify her.
"Bella was a gift from God whose life was cut short at such a young age," Amoroso said. "But Bella was, still is and always will be in my heart and soul."
Amoroso said he chose the name Bella for the girl because it means beautiful, "and that she was." He remembered the girl as a happy, smart child who loved Hello Kitty and knew how to make a pizza. He said he believed she would have excelled in college and would have "grown up to be a beautiful, successful woman who loved life."
"I was robbed of my chance to be a father to Bella," Amoroso said. "No verdict changes that. No justice on earth fixes that grief."
Amoroso testified at McCarthy's trial that he met the child's mother, Rachelle Bond, when the two were both homeless in Boston in 2012. He later moved to Georgia and never met the child, but started a relationship with her over the phone. In the summer of 2015, he said he told Rachelle Bond he wanted to be a father to the girl and made a trip back to Massachusetts to visit her.
"I want to buy her ice cream," Amoroso said he told Rachelle Bond. "Take her to the bus stop."
Unbenownst to him, the child was already dead.
Rachelle Bond told jurors during McCarthy's murder trial that she saw McCarthy punch the girl in the abdomen so hard that she bounced off a bed. Bond pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact for helping McCarthy dispose of her daughter's body, and testified for the prosecution. She is expected to be sentenced to time served and probation.
McCarthy's lawyer, however, called her credibility into question during the tiral and told jurors in his closing argument that Rachelle Bond is a "monster" who killed her own daughter.
A prosecutor condeded that while she behaved "inexcusably" and kept silent about the crime for months, there's no evidence she killed her daughter. They said said McCarthy killed Bella because he thought she was a "demon."
Amoroso said during the trial that Rachelle Bond at first told him that the girl was with her godparents when he asked to see her. Eventually, she told him the truth.
"She told me Bella was dead," he said. "I flipped out, I punched a concrete pillar."
Outside court, Amoroso told reporters he was happy McCarthy was sentenced life in prison, and that he had believed from the beginning that McCarthy was guilty, according to CBS Boston.
After a 15-day trial, it took the jury of eight men and four women a little over 23 hours over the course of five days to convict McCarthy.
McCarthy will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years under the sentence imposed Wednesday. A prosecutor asked the judge to set McCarthy's parole eligibility at 25 years - 10 years more than the minimum. McCarthy's lawyer called that recommendation "vindictive."
McCarthy will serve his life sentence at Cedar Junction state prison in Walpole.