NY child killer gets 20-to-life for '88 slaying

October 28, 2011 - 12:40 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A man already imprisoned for strangling a 4-year-old girl in upstate New York in 1994 was sentenced Friday to 20 years to life for beating an elderly woman to death six years earlier.

Mark Christie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last month in the bludgeoning of 74-year-old Viola Manville, whose body was found on a path near her home in Hilton, a Rochester suburb. Manville was shot with a pellet gun and beaten with the gun and a railroad tie.

A truck driver, Frank Sterling, confessed to Manville's killing during an all-night police interrogation in 1991. DNA testing exonerated Sterling last year after he spent 19 years behind bars.

Christie, 39, is serving 25 years to life for strangling neighbor Kali Ann Poulton. The 20-year sentence handed down Friday will run consecutively with the other sentence.

Christie said nothing and appeared unemotional in court Friday. He shook his head when asked if he wanted to speak.

Prosecutors who interviewed Christie in April 2010 said the former security guard confessed to killing Manville on Nov. 29, 1988, and officials with the Innocence Project, which works to exonerate wrongfully convicted people, said he revealed details only the killer would know.

Christie, a teenager at the time, was questioned soon after the slaying but denied involvement and was discounted as a suspect.

Though Sterling confessed to Manville's killing in July 1991, he later claimed he had slipped into a hypnotic state and parroted details police gave him about the crime.

After years of protesting his innocence, he said he felt anger and relief when told he was being freed.

"Yeah, I'm mad," he said. "I'm glad he (Christie) finally did the right thing. Wish it was a little sooner."

Sterling unsuccessfully sought a new trial in 1997 after four former friends of Christie testified the teen bragged about clubbing Manville with a BB gun on his walk to Hilton High School.

Christie was sentenced to 25 years to life in 1997 for strangling Poulton in 1994 and hiding the girl's body for two years before he finally blurted out the truth to his new bride. The girl had vanished while riding a tricycle outside her home in a suburban Rochester town house complex.

Christie took part in a neighborhood search for Kali that spring night after disposing of the body.