Though a body was never found, Detroit father D’Andre Lane was sentenced to mandatory life in prison without chance for parole on Monday, following his conviction in the death and disappearance of his 2-year-old daughter. Lane reported his daughter Bianca Jones missing on Dec. 2, 2011, claiming that he had been carjacked at gunpoint with Bianca still in the car. The case prompted a city wide search for the child before charges were brought back to Lane.
The car was found less than an hour after Lane contacted police, with no sign of Bianca, but a cadaver-sniffing dog reacted to the scent of a body both in the car, and in Bianca’s bedroom. Prosecutors built a case against Lane based on believed abuse and an obsession with potty training his children. Lane was accused of beating Bianca to death after she wet herself, then hiding the body, which has yet to be found. A jury found Lane guilty of first degree murder and child abuse in October, but the 33-year-old maintains his innocence.
“I just wanna say, first and foremost, I did not murder my child; I did not abuse my child. I love all of my children — all of them,” the father of seven children by seven different mothers said in court. “You’re the only ones who said she’s dead. No one got on that stand and said she’s dead. No one said they found evidence that proved she’s dead,” he said. “But I understand — this is what you need. You need a conviction; you need somebody to take the fall; you need somebody to take the blame.”
Vonda Evans, the Wayne County Circuit Judge overseeing the case, challenged Lane’s claims of innocence during the hearing. “You controlled her dead body like a rag doll. … You figured that a city plagued with violence, understaffed by police — who would care? But you were wrong,” she said.
After receiving his sentence, Lane was ejected from court for saying that the case was based on lies. As court officers escorted him out, he addressed the judge by her first name, telling her: “Vonda, you’re a liar.”
Bianca’s mother Banika Jones has supported Lane throughout the trial. Outside the court house she told reporters that she believed her daughter was in fact alive.
“I feel like we’ve been greatly wronged; that we have never been considered the innocent victims that we truly were,” she told the crowd. ”From the very beginning this case we never about looking for my daughter, but about apprehending the guy that they knew did it even though the evidence never pointed to that.”