TAMPA (FOX 13) - After taking his chances and rejecting a 40-year plea deal from prosecutors, convicted child molester Daniel Santiago was sentenced to life in prison Friday.
"I'm asking for your mercy, your honor. It scares me, going to prison," Santiago told the judge during sentencing.
He was asking for mercy after he was just convicted for molesting his young stepdaughter. Prosecutors say he groomed the girl by making her watch adult films, including a black-market version of Disney’s "Frozen." They say he also took provocative pictures of the victim.
The photos were found on the defendant’s cell phone. The abuse, prosecutors say, went on for a while before the girl told her mother.
During the trial, Santiago pointed the finger at his elderly father, however, the jury did not buy it.
Santiago's mother, Anabelle Olivas, through an interrupter, pleaded with the judge to protect her son in prison.
"Once he, gets to prison what guarantee as to his safety from other inmates?" she asked.
Judge Samantha Ward says Santiago's safety is up to the Department of Corrections.
"In this case, I have no alternative but to sentence you to life in prison, based on the jury’s verdict," said Judge Ward.
The victim’s mother was there for the sentencing but did not address the court.