Carlsbad Father Gets Life For 8-Year-Old Daughter's Death

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — A Carlsbad man will stay in prison for the rest of his life for fatally beating his 8-year-old daughter and then hiding her body.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reported Friday that Juan Lerma was sentenced to life last week for abuse a child resulting in death, evidence tampering and witness bribery.

A jury convicted Lerma last month.

The 35-year-old father was arrested in 2020 after Samantha Rubino's body was discovered wrapped in bags in a trash can on his property.

A state medical examiner determined the girl died of trauma to her head caused by a brain bleed.

The charge of bribery of a witness was later dropped.

Lerma denied killing his daughter. He said during trial that he disposed of her body out of panic.

But his 11-year-old son testified that Lerma began beating and abusing both children once they came to live with him in 2020 after their mother's death. Furthermore, he beat Samantha the day of her death.