The man convicted for killing 13-year-old Jessica Funk Haslam back in 2012 was sentenced in a Sacramento County court Friday morning to life in prison, with the possibility for parole after 26 years.
Ryan Douglas Roberts, 25, maintains his innocence, and his family and attorney both say they plan to file an appeal.
Funk-Halsam would've been a 17-year-old high school student today. Instead, her family has only memories of her. Tara Funk Haslam, Jessica’s mother, read a statement allowed in the courtroom before the sentence was handed down.
"He sat on her chest with all his weight as he stabbed her neck,” said her mother. A statement from Jessica’s father, who was not in the courtroom.
"Jessica was a smart girl who could've gone a long way with her life,” her mother said.
The judge did not allow Roberts to read a statement he prepared, after deputy county prosecutor Eric Kindall made a motion that it not be allowed, because it would not be subject to cross examination.
"I know [my children’s] character. I know who they are, and if I thought for one minute that my son was responsible for this brutal, brutal murder I would be the first person to take him and charge him with the murder myself,” said Tammy Roberts, Ryan’s mother.
"This conviction is wrong. It's very wrong,” said Roberts’ Attorney Jennifer Mouzis. Before hearing Roberts' sentence, Mouzis made an impassioned statement to that effect. “Justice is not served if my client who is 25 years old is sent to prison for the rest of his life for a crime he did not commit. That is not justice. Justice is not conviction it is truth."
Funk-Haslam was brutally murdered back in 2012 at a Rosemont park, choked and stabbed to death four years ago this March. Her body was left in a locked dugout.
Roberts was arrested for the murder 17 months later, when his DNA matched samples found on two cigarette butts near funk Haslam's body, according to the District Attorney’s office.
"It was the weakest evidence I have ever seen in a murder case, and I cannot believe a prosecution was sought and a conviction was found,” said Mouzis.
Roberts’ family and his attorney say they will plan the appeal as soon as possible. His mother Tammy says the family will also file a civil suit against three Sacramento County detectives for mishandling evidence.
"That new evidence will show that three names familiar with this trial standing over the dead body of Jessica,” said Robert’s mother.
"There will never be closure, not until day I don't have to worry about him,” said Funk Haslam’s mother.
As the Funk Haslam family tries to put this tragedy behind them, Jessica's mothers says even a life sentence for Roberts, is only a small comfort.
"There's a new normal in life. There's nothing normal, life is gone, as it was,” said Funk Haslam.