Disbarred lawyer Joel Steinberg received the maximum sentence - eight years and four months to 25 years in jail - Friday for killing his illegally adopted daughter, Lisa, in a case that drew national attention to child abuse.
Steinberg, 47, who was convicted of first-degree manslaughter Jan. 30 after a three-month trial, was also fined $5,000.Steinberg was found guilty of beating the 6-year-old girl and leaving her to die on the bathroom floor of his Greenwich Village apartment.
According to court testimony, after the beating, Steinberg waited 12 hours before calling for medical help - going out to dinner with a client and then coming home and taking cocaine for several hours.
State Supreme Court Justice Harold Rothwax, who imposed sentence after Steinberg made the first and only courtroom defense of his conduct, strongly recommended he not receive parole.
He called Steinberg an insensitive, remorseless killer and said prompt medical attention might have saved Lisa's life.
Michelle Launders, Lisa's natural mother, sat silently and wept in the first row of seats directly behind Steinberg.
"The man is lying. I don't believe a thing he says," she said after Steinberg made a plea for leniency by saying he was a loving father.
The case came to light Nov. 1, 1987, when Steinberg's former lover, Hedda Nussbaum, 46, called police to their filthy apartment and told them that the child had stopped breathing. Lisa died two days later.
During the trial, Nussbaum's battered face and pictures of her bruised body drew national attention to child abuse and the plight of battered women.
Though convicted of first-degree manslaughter, Steinberg was cleared of second-degree murder, for which the penalty is 25 years to life.
At Friday's hearing, Prosecutor John McClusker asked for the maximum sentence, saying Steinberg "has never shown any sorrow or any remorse for the fact that the life of a small child was taken."
In imposing sentence, Rothwax said he "strongly and emphatically" recommended against granting Steinberg parole when he becomes eligible in eight years and four months.
Defense attorney Felix Gilroy, however, insisted his client was innocent.
"Remorse is not an appropriate term," he said. "This man did not commit a crime."
Steinberg, who did not take the stand in his own defense at his trial, delivered a rambling 20-minute monologue, often falling silent, appearing to fight back tears.