Man who sexually assaulted friend's daughter gets life without parole

A Tarrant County jury deliberated for a total of an hour and 15 minutes on Wednesday before convicting and sentencing a 28-year-old man to life in prison without parole for sexually assaulting a family friend's 5-year-old daughter.

Eduardo Espinoza of Fort Worth was arrested on Feb. 15, 2011, and was tried this week on two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

About 3 a.m. on Feb. 14, 2011, a mother found her daughter with the covers pulled over her head. When the mother pulled down the covers, she discovered her daughter was awake and naked from the waist down.

The mother put her daughter's underwear back on, and when she picked her up to carry her into her own bedroom she saw Espinoza lying on the floor, partially in her daughter's bedroom. The child told her mother that "Lalo," Espinoza's nickname, had taken off her pants and underwear while she was sleeping.

Police were called and Espinoza's DNA was subsequently found in the little girl's panties. Espinoza, who was dating a cousin of the victim's father, spent the night on the living room couch after drinking too much during a Valentine's Day party at the family's apartment.

"Eduardo Espinoza violated a close family friend's trust in the most perverted of ways," said prosecutor Dale Smith. "They opened their home to him, and in one action, he changed their lives forever. The jury made sure he will never have that opportunity again."

Because the child was under 6 at the time, Espinoza faced a punishment ranging of 25 years to life in prison without parole.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram