CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. — The man accused of killing 3-year-old Jordyn Dumont was found guilty of first-degree murder in court Monday after closing arguments were presented by both sides.
William McCullen was found guilty by a jury of killing Dumont and burying her body near her mother’s home in Bessemer City last August. McCullen's defense conceded in closing arguments that he did kill the young girl, but pushed for a second-degree murder conviction.
The jury unanimously agreed that he was guilty of first-degree murder. McCullen will be sentenced to life in prison without parole, but he said he will appeal the verdict.
In an emotional closing argument, Gaston County Assistant District Attorney Debbie Gulledge showed a photo of Jordyn smiling and asked jurors to remember the photo as they deliberated on a conviction.
"So happy and full of life," Gulledge said, as she began crying. "Despite the assaults and abuse that she lived through on a daily basis, this child deserves justice. Do the right thing. Find him guilty of first-degree murder."
The judge offered McCullen a chance to address the courtroom, to which he replied, "I'd like to appeal the decision and the sentencing."
McCullen's older sister, Crystal McCullen, said she had torn emotions following Monday's conviction.
"I really didn't want to believe that my brother was capable of anything like this, but I'm just really sorry to the family," McCullen said. "It's just a tragedy for everybody involved."
Last week, prosecutors presented video evidence of what they described as McCullen confessing to killing the toddler. McCullen reportedly told investigators that it "pissed him off" that Dumont talked back and refused to eat when he tried to feed her.
An autopsy determined that Dumont died of blunt force abdominal injuries from an assault. She was found wrapped in a sheet in a hole underneath broken limbs and leaves.