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Murderer of Stepdaugher Gets Life

May 15, 2002

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BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (AP) _ A man who pleaded guilty to raping and killing his 13-year-old stepdaughter and burying her near the family’s home was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole.

Prosecutors said Jeff Leone attacked his stepdaughter, Jennifer Watkins, in December 2000 to get revenge on his estranged wife.

``This case strikes me as an example of the danger of evil thinking,″ Prosecutor David Powell said. ``Society should never have to face Mr. Leone in the free world.″

Leone told investigators he used a dog choker to strangle the girl, then raped her body and buried it behind a shed near the family’s mobile home about 30 miles west of Bloomington.

Defense attorney Jessie Cook argued during Tuesday’s hearing that Leone’s statements were the result of psychiatric problems that could be helped through medication. Leone plans to appeal the sentence, Cook said.

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