Rita Fisher had five broken ribs and 70 bruises from her forehead to her feet. She weighed 47 pounds.
But no one did anything to save the 9-year-old.On Tuesday, jurors decided that the child's family was responsible for her death. Her mother, Mary Utley, her sister Rose Fisher and Rose's live-in boyfriend, Frank Scarpola, were convicted of second-degree murder.
"They let that little girl die," prosecutor James Gentry said in his closing arguments.
It's been almost a year since Rita's blue body was found face up on the wooden floor of her family's suburban two-story home. Her mattress had been removed several weeks earlier because she had wet the bed. Her wrists and feet were bound with a shoelace, her chest tied to the dresser, her mouth taped to stop her crying.
She was being punished, Scarpola testified, for picking at a scab on her chin.
The official cause of death: malnutrition and dehydration. The child's other sister, a 16-year-old, testified that Rita received no food the last week she was alive, only a cup of water a day.
During his testimony, Scarpola, 22, demonstrated for jurors how he tied up the child who "would never listen," but whom he loved "like she was my own daughter." He said he was overwhelmed by having to take care of Rita and the 16-year-old sister but never meant to hurt them.