CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A father will spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering his young son, but will not face death row.
A jury decided Andre Hampton's fate Tuesday after about 16 hours of deliberations spanning three days. The same jury convicted Hampton of abuse and murder by torture in the death of his 23-month-old son Elijah Burger.
Hampton beat Burger to death with a belt, toothbrush and hairbrush. Some investigators call it the worst murder they've ever seen in Mecklenburg County.
"It was a family tragedy that Elijah Burger died and the verdict speaks with compassion," said attorney Norman Butler, who represented Hampton.
"We respect their decision, we respect the process they followed to do it and we respect the system of laws that allowed them to do it," said Assistant District Attorney Bill Stetzer after the jury rendered the verdict.
Prosecutors offered Hampton life in prison but Hampton and his attorneys chose to go to trial.
Hampton spoke after learning his fate and told courtroom there are no words to describe how sorry he is. Hampton also thanked the prosecutors because their case showed how much they cared about Elijah.
"I appreciate those words and he'll never be free to hurt another child, and that gives us some solace," Stetzer said.
Jurors left the courthouse escorted by deputies and did not explain their verdict.
Hampton's mother April Gadson gave NBC Charlotte this statement:
"To God be all the glory! I am relieved that the jury saw fit to save my son's life. I am very thankful. I tried to raise my children in a way that they would not have had a fate such as this. But God is always in control. We loved Elijah and will go forth as a family to make sure that we as well as other people will be educated to break the cycle of abuse."
The trial and sentencing was flat-out gut wrenching, from the testimony to the pictures.
Most if not all the jurors, as well as others in the courtroom, cried when it was over.