Milagro Cunningham: Man convicted of raping Lake Worth child in 2005 re-sentenced to 50 years

Posted at 12:00 PM, Jun 23, 2016

A man convicted of raping a little girl, burying her and leaving her to die in 2005 was sentenced to 50 years in prison today.

Milagro Cunningham had a re-sentencing hearing Thursday. The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled his 70-year sentence in 2009 was unconstitutional because he was a juvenile at the time of the crime.

The court cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling noting that juveniles can't be sentenced to life without parole for non-homicide offenses.

The nation's highest court gave this consideration because they said a juvenile's brain isn't fully developed, and therefore deserve a second chance to be rehabilitated.

Judge Charles Burton announced the sentence after hearing defense testimony from several witnesses, including inmates who have been serving time in prison with Cunningham. They spoke about his poor health and demeanor. The defendant's aunt also testified.

The state called the victim to testify. 

Lachele Nance is now 19 and has had to relive this nightmare three times for the court.

“It's hard because I feel like this is never going to go away. Sometimes i want it to just go away,” said Nance. “Even though I have freedom, I still suffer. So I feel like he should suffer too.”

In 2005, police found an 8-year-old girl buried alive with minor injuries in an abandoned landfill, hours after she was reported abducted, according to officials in Lake Worth.

Authorities detained Cunningham, whom they said the girl identified as her attacker.

Searchers found the girl inside a yellow recycling bin, which was inside a 30-foot dumpster.

At the time, Lake Worth Police Department spokesman Dan Boland said the girl "was left for dead."

Cunningham will be eligible for a judicial review after 20 years. He will also get credit for time served.