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Joshua Gurto sentenced to 8 years in prison in connection with toddler's 2017 death, totaling 36 years after previous rape case

Joshua Gurto was originally charged with rape and murder in Sereniti Sutley's October 2017 death. Those charges were reduced to involuntary manslaughter in July.

JEFFERSON, Ohio — Joshua Gurto was sentenced to eight years in prison after accepting a plea deal in Ashtabula County Court on Monday. 

It comes after Gurto was originally charged with rape and murder in the case involving 13-month-old Sereniti Sutley in 2017. Those charges, however, were reduced to involuntary manslaughter at the request of prosecutors in July.

With the sentence being added to a previous 28-year term he is currently serving after pleading guilty in a separate rape case, he is now set to serve a 36-year prison sentence.

The judge noted that with Gurto set to serve his new term consecutively, the earliest that he will be eligible for parole is in December 2052, when he will be in his 70s.

Gurto was dating Sereniti's mother at the time.

Ashtabula County Prosecutor Colleen O'Toole says Gurto's DNA did not show up on rape kit results for Sereniti's murder. However, forensic reports do show Sereniti was neglected and repeatedly abused.

In an emotional scene, members of Sereniti's family addressed Gurto. At one point, Sereniti's grandmother, Melissa Sutley, shouted at Gurto to face her, although he ultimately never did.

“I would like this gentleman to turn around and look and watch," she said. "He did this. This is why we’re here. He should see the emotions of what he’s done to the families that he destroyed their lives. He should be forced to see us in the emotions instead of standing forward and his back toward us like it meant nothing. Where is the justice in you standing there with your back against us?

When the judge asked Gurto to turn around, he refused to do so.

“You did this! You put us all here!" Sutley continued. "Turn around and look at us! Face what you did to our family!” 

Visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove added an eight-year prison sentence to the 28-year term that Gurto is currently serving.

You can watch Monday's entire court hearing in the player below:

Sereniti's mother, Kelsie Marie Blankenship, was also charged with murder in the case but later pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, receiving a six-year prison sentence just last year.

Gurto led federal and local police on a national manhunt after Sereniti was killed before being found and arrested near Pittsburgh.


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