INDIO, Calif. - A man described by a prosecutor as a ``serial baby killer'' who inflicted fatal injuries on his 10-week-old daughter in Desert Hot Springs less than two years after another one of his infant children met a similar fate was sentenced to death Friday.
Jurors who convicted 39-year-old Jason Michael Hann in December also recommended he be executed for killing his daughter, Montana, in February 2001. "That was the hard part for a lot of us and today," said Bob Price, an alternate juror, who came to watch the sentencing. "It's the closure day."
Riverside Superior Court Judge James S. Hawkins decided Friday to uphold their recommendation.
Before the sentence was read, Hann's lawyer made a motion for a retrial of the penalty phase and a motion for a reduction in sentence. "He was really hoping to get the death sentence converted to a life without the possibility of parole, and the judge appropriately denied the motion," said deputy district attorney Lisa DiMaria.
Hann was convicted of first-degree murder and assault on a child causing great bodily injury, along with a special circumstance allegation of having a previous murder conviction.
Krissy Lynn Werntz, the baby's 34-year-old mother and Hann's then- girlfriend, is also charged with murder and has a March 17 trial date.
Prosecutors said Hann struck Montana in the head, inflicting fatal skull fractures. He wrapped her head in duct tape and her body in trash bags and placed her in a Tupperware container, which was then put in another trash bag and kept inside a trailer for a year at an Arkansas storage unit.
When Hann and Werntz stopped making payments, the trailer was auctioned off to an Arkansas man, who discovered the bag in February 2002, Deputy District Attorney Lisa DiMaria said. Hann and Werntz were taken into custody in April 2002 at a motel in Portland, Maine.
The day after they were arrested, police found the remains of another one of their children, a boy less than 2 months old, in a plastic container inside a storage unit in Arizona. That baby, named Jason, had been killed in July 1999 in Vermont.
In February 2006 in Vermont, Hann entered a no-contest plea to second-degree murder in the baby's death and was sentenced to 27 to 30 years in prison. Werntz wasn't charged in that case.
Authorities investigating the couple determined that their third child, a month-old boy named Michael, had skull, femur and rib fractures and was on the ``brink of death'' when he was found, DiMaria told jurors. That boy was later adopted and renamed.
While being questioned, Hann told police that Montana had died in Desert Hot Springs. The baby was born in Arizona on Dec. 1, 2000, and the family moved from Vermont to California about a month later and was staying in a motor home in Desert Hot Springs at the time she died. "These kids never had a chance at life so it was more than deserved, and I think he tried to cover up the crime as well," said Price.
Hann was in prison for the death of his son, Jason, when officials in Vermont agreed to extradite him to California to stand trial for Montana's death. He and Werntz were indicted by a grand jury in September 2009.
Hann's attorney, Brenda Miller, said during the trial that her client suffered from bipolar disorder, and his emotions ``came to a peak with (the baby's) continual crying, resulting in the death of infant Montana.''
She said he told a detective that he struck the baby on the side of the head, saying, ``I just flipped out, something just comes over me.''