A former U.S. Air Force spouse convicted of beating his 8-year-old stepson to death while living near Kadena Air Base in 2007 has been sentenced to 30 years in prison by a federal judge.
Roberto DeLeon, 28, was found guilty in October of murdering Jordan Peterson and had faced a maximum of life in prison. He was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, according to The Associated Press.
The Air Force handed off the case to federal prosecutors early last year because DeLeon was a civilian spouse charged with felony offenses. Since 2000, such cases fall under the Department of Justice.
Peterson was found unresponsive while under DeLeon’s care at their home in April 2007 and was pronounced dead at the U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Lester later the same day.
An autopsy revealed that the boy died of massive internal injuries to his liver.
DeLeon severely beat Peterson, killing him with blunt force trauma to the abdomen, according to court records.
Evidence in the case pointed to past abuse and the boy’s death raised questions about the involvement of the Air Force and Japanese child welfare officials.
Five months before his death, the boy was found partially dressed, badly bruised and roaming the streets of Uruma City in Okinawa.
But Japanese authorities took no action in response to that incident and Peterson was returned to DeLeon and his airman mother, Staff Sgt. Sabrina Renee DeLeon.
One of the boy’s teachers had also reported suspicions of abuse.
In the wake of the Peterson case, the Japanese government in Okinawa has created a new system for reporting child abuse allegations among Americans living there.
"I feel that justice was done because he (DeLeon) will need to make reparations by taking plenty of time" to think about his crimes, said Hisa Uechi, the woman who found Peterson wandering the streets before his death and later testified at the trial.