Family of murdered Merced 17-year-old faces her killer

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- A North Valley family faced the man convicted in the death of 17-year-old Heaven Murillo.

RELATED: Merced mom angry, hurt over sentence for 17-year-old daughter's killer

Benjamin Goddard admitted to smoking meth with Murilllo but the defense maintained he never confessed to killing her.

Murillo's family sought a much stiffer sentence than the one handed down in the Merced County Superior Court.

Benjamin Goddard sat quietly and stared as the victim's family members addressed him.

Heaven's mother Joanne Murillo said, "You are part of my heart and the devil took that away from us. All of us."

Heaven Murillo went missing in June of 2017. In September, her body was found in a Merced County field.

RELATED: Man arrested for killing 17-year old Merced girl appears in court

Before his client was sentenced, Defense Attorney Doug Foster said, "It is not clear that Heaven Murillo was murdered."

He added, "This investigation never revealed the fact that Mr. Goddard's DNA was not found anywhere on Heaven's body."

In a plea deal, Benjamin Goddard pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter and giving drugs to a minor.

Superior Court Judge Steven Slocum explained, "Those terms are running concurrent for a total aggregate term of nine years."

Heaven's aunt Jessica Santillan faced Goddard and asked, "How can your nine years be enough for a child who had their lifetime ahead of them?"

But Goddard is expected to spend even less time than that in prison. If you add up the credits for time served and good behavior, he could be free in January of 2023.

Joanna Murillo doesn't believe justice was served.

She said, "25 years to life but if we couldn't get that, at least have him serve the whole nine years. Like, what is that?"

Merced County's district attorney cited a lack of evidence in not being able to go beyond the involuntary manslaughter charge.

D.A. Kimberly Lewis said, "The most difficult thing about being a prosecutor is that so often we're faced with decisions that leave a sense of incomplete justice with the family."
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