George Halstead knows it will be very emotional when he gets his chance to speak.
“It’s just real hard taking this. Because this just brings it back to the first days," said Halstead outside a Martin County courtroom Monday.
His 4-year-old girl Angel was killed in 1979 in Vero Beach. Monday would have been Angel's 43rd birthday.
Brooks Bellay pleaded guilty to second-degree murder as a teenager the following year. He was back in court in Martin County where his initial trial took place.
Under new sentencing guidelines passed in 2014, juveniles convicted of murder prior to 1994 and sentenced to life, are entitled to a new sentencing.
The state called three witnesses, including retired Vero Beach Police Sgt. David Carter, who recalled how Bellay helped in the search for Angel and inserted himself into the investigation.
“He volunteered quite often with information. 'Did you look by a well?' " said Carter.
"He's (Bellay's) right with me going through the woods and I wanted to go in an area and he said, 'No no she would not go there.' I thank God I did not go there and find her," said a tearful Halstead.
Former state attorney Bob Stone said it was a difficult case to prosecute, but said Bellay belongs in prison for life.
“I pray that some day Mr. Bellay’s soul will be free, but his body belongs in prison," said Stone.
Angel was found naked in the woods. It was initially thought she had been sexually assaulted. The defense focused on the lack of evidence supporting that conclusion in a second autopsy done on the young girl.
“Although she didn’t have any clothes on, which is awfully suggestive of sexual assault, she didn’t have any physical evidence of a sexual assault," said defense witness Dr. Ronald Wright, the former Medical Examiner for Broward County.
The hearing concludes on Tuesday when Angel's family plans to speak. The judge is expected to make his ruling next month.
— Jon Shainman (@JonShainman) October 23, 2017