A defense attorney said Ralph Folster, 28, used and sold drugs while grieving the death of 8-year-old Isabella “Bella” Grogan-Cannella.
Mohave County Superior Court Judge Billy Sipe didn’t buy it.
“When you lose a child close to you, if anything, it should wake you up,” Sipe said during the sentencing hearing.
Folster pleaded guilty in April to six counts of sale of dangerous drugs and one count of misconduct involving weapons as a prohibited possessor.
Justin Rector, 26, a friend of Bella’s mother, was charged with first-degree murder in the girl’s death. He faces the death penalty.
Authorities said Bella was strangled and that Rector’s shoe prints were lifted from near the shallow grave where her body was found about a half mile from her home.
Bella’s mother, Tania Grogan, 29, was arrested two months after the girl’s death on drug charges. She is jailed and is more than eight months pregnant. Her attorney, Brad Rideout, said Grogan will be transported from the Mohave County jail to a local hospital when she’s ready to give birth.
Grogan will go back to jail before entering a drug sale plea agreement in June, Rideout said. He said the deal with the state calls for imposition of a five-year prison term.