NEW ROCHELLE, Westchester County (WABC) -- A New Rochelle man convicted of killing his 7-year-old daughter in 2017 was sentenced Thursday to 25 years to life in prison.
Neil White smothered his daughter Gabrielle while he and his wife were going through a divorce, and she was staying with her father.
In court, Gabrielle's mother Michelle Hord delivered a powerful impact statement.
Holding her daughter's doll, she described the two years since her child's murder as "a razor-blade cut of trauma, memory, pain, confusion, betrayal and disbelief."
She told the court she, her daughter and White were all asthmatics and added that, "Asthmatics know the terror of not being able to easily inhale and exhale, and yet, Gabrielle's daddy willfully and evilly chose to take that away from a baby who he once seemed to love and a daughter who he ultimately used as a pawn. My heart and soul have literally been ripped from the body by this man."
Her babysitter arrived that morning and found the young girl's lifeless body in her bed and White with his wrists slashed claiming he was trying to take his own life.
He admitted he killed his daughter because he wanted to punish his wife for divorcing him, though his attorney tried to raise doubts about the confession since it wasn't recorded.
A jury found him guilty of second-degree murder back in July.
After the murder, Eyewitness News spoke exclusively with the child's babysitter, Tonette Mahon.
She said she adored the second grader but knew something was wrong when she got a text from White saying Gabrielle wasn't feeling well and was staying home from school.
She thought it was odd because the girl's mother hadn't called her.
Mahon went to the home, where she found that the blinds were closed and it was dark She called out for Neil White and Gabrielle, but at first, no one answered.
When she looked into the girl's room, she noticed the blankets were messed up. Then she saw White standing there and asked him about Gabrielle.
Mahon said White told her, "Oh she's in her room resting."
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Westchester County man gets 25 years to life for smothering 7-year-old daughter