A Yuma County Superior Court judge on Friday sentenced former Marine Jared Cardwell to life in prison in the death of his 22-month old stepdaughter,

Because the offense is considered a dangerous crime against a child under the age of 12, Cardwell must serve at least 35 years of the sentence before he is eligible for parole.

In handing down the sentence Judge Brandon Kinsey, who presided over the case, also gave Cardwell credit for all the time he has served in the Yuma County jail since his arrest.

A jury found Cardwell guilty of second-degree murder in January in the death of Celine Matus, who was found unresponsive on May, 19, 2015, at her home at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

The jury took less than four hours to reach its decision.

Matus died of blunt force trauma to the head while under the care of Cardwell, who was a lance corporal stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma before being administratively separated from the Marine Corps.

He was arrested three days later.

The U.S. Marine Corps initially brought Cardwell up on charges under the articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but the case was eventually turned over to the Yuma County Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

James Gilbert can be reached at jgilbert@yumasun.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.

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