Robert Quiroz sentenced to life for killing his son

FRESNO, Calif.

The judge had some kind words for Quiroz -- even acknowledging that the convicted killer was once a hero. He handed down a life sentence, but chose the lightest sentence allowed, making Quiroz eligible for parole when he's 42 years old.

The transformation from military uniform to prison uniform is now complete for Robert Quiroz. The 25-year-old ex-Marine sat in a red prison jumpsuit as a judge sentenced him for the murder of his three-month-old son, Roman. Quiroz chose not to speak at sentencing, but his attorney says he accepts the blame, and his punishment.

"Mr. Quiroz accepted responsibility for his son's death and that will be his main punishment in life wherever he spends it," said his defense attorney, Mike Idiart.

Prosecutors say Quiroz fractured his son's skull and killed him by throwing the boy into something like this couch, which they showed the jury during the trial in October. The court's punishment could've forced him to serve a 37-year sentence before his first shot at parole. But Judge Jonathan Conklin showed Quiroz as much leniency as he's allowed -- handing down a life sentence, but allowing a possible parole after 25 years.

"I think your actions prior to the death of your child could appropriately be described as heroic," Judge Conklin said.

Quiroz had just been deployed to the Middle East when his wife suffered fatal injuries while giving birth to roman. The Marine rushed home to Fresno to take care of his family, but three months later, the boy was also dead. Five years later, the prosecutor is still having trouble shaking the emotions of the case.

"This was one that I took home with me and I carried with me for quite some time afterward and actually in the years leading up to this trial," said Mike Frye. "It has been a difficult case. It was tragic on every level."

Quiroz has two surviving daughters who are living with other family members. His parental rights have been cut off, but he's trying to establish funds for their futures.

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