Officials believe Melinda Muniz staged a home invasion in an attempt to cover up murdering a 2-year-old girl

By Caitlin Keating
Updated February 03, 2015 05:20 PM
Collin County Sheriff's Office

A woman was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Monday for killing her fiancé’s 2-year-old daughter, Fox 4 reports.

Prosecutors say that Melinda Muniz, 26, killed Grace Ford after the toddler’s father broke up with her.

Muniz murdered the toddler on Jan. 9, 2014, in their Plano, Texas, apartment, which she shared with Ford’s father, Mitch, according to the.

Ford was found unconscious in her crib with duct tape over her mouth. She was taken off life support three days later.

Officials believe she also staged a home invasion and sexual assault in an attempt to cover up her crime. A doctor who treated Grace told the jury there was no evidence that she had been sexually assaulted; another expert testified there was no evidence that Muniz had been assaulted. Muniz had claimed at the time that she had suffered a sexual assault.

Muniz had pleaded not guilty in the case.

The jury deliberated for 45 minutes before giving a guilty verdict. Jurors watched surveillance video showing Muniz buying duct tape, with Ford, hours before the crime.

Ford’s mother, Emily Ward, briefly spoke to Muniz in court during victim impact statements about her daughter who reportedly loved Minnie Mouse, animal crackers and all things pink.

“Because of you, I will never hear my beautiful daughter sing again,” she said.

She also said that she forgives Muniz.

“Not because you deserve it, but because I need closure, and I need to move on with my life.”

Mitch Ford also spoke to a packed courtroom.

“I miss Grace every day,” he said.

To Muniz he said, “I don’t forgive you and I never will.”