MCKINNEY, TX -- It took a jury just 45 minutes to find Melinda Muniz guilty of capital murder for the death of two-year-old Grace Ford.
"It's been a long year for my family. It has been a heartbreaking year, but this is going to bring us closure and help all of us move on," Grace's mother, Emily Ward said following the verdict.
The prosecutor said Muniz suffocated Grace after the toddler's dad broke off their engagement, and then staged a home invasion inside a Plano apartment. Grace was found unconscious in her crib with duct tape across her mouth.
Jurors listened to a week's worth of evidence and watched a video of Muniz buying duct tape at a Dollar Store, as Grace was along for the ride. An hour later, Muniz called 911 to report an intruder. She later told detectives she had amnesia.
"She was faced with the prospect of going up against two very skilled prosecutors, with a lot of ammunition, a lot of evidence stacked against her," Muniz's attorney, Robbie McLung, said. "She made the tough decision not to speak."
After an emotional day in court, the prosecutor told the jury "I hope you remember Grace Ford's name for the rest of your life."
Muniz was sentenced to life in prison, without possibility of parole.
"What Melinda did was heinous, it was cruel and unusal against nature; taking the life of an innocent child," Grace's grandfather, Doug Reeves said. "But, you forgive people; you choose to forgive people."