The California Supreme Court Thursday unanimously upheld the death sentence of a man convicted along with his wife of murdering his 4-year-old niece in what was described at the time as San Diego County's worst case of child abuse.
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Ivan Gonzales -- referred to by prosecutor Daniel Goldstein as "Ivan the Terrible" -- was sentenced to death in 1998 for the torture-murder of Genny Rojas.
Gonzales' wife, Veronica, was tried separately and also sentenced to death. Her death sentence was affirmed last year.
In affirming the death sentence for Ivan Gonzales, state Supreme Court Associate Justice Carol Corrigan said evidence that the victim was tortured over a period of time was "overwhelming."
The youngster was living with the defendants and their six children in a two-bedroom apartment in Chula Vista because her mother had a drug problem and lost custody.
The child was burned in a bathtub of scalding hot water, burned with a blow dryer and handcuffed and hung from a bar inside a closet.
Authorities said the scalding was the final act of abuse before the child died. They said Ivan and Veronica Gonzales waited several hours before calling for help.
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