Father of slain toddler sues convicted Elwood killer - FOX 32 News Chicago

Father of slain toddler sues convicted Elwood killer

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JOLIET, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

An Elwood man awaiting sentencing for killing his fiancee's toddler also faces a million-dollar lawsuit from the girl's biological father.

Lee K. Ponshe, 29, is facing mandatory life in prison for the murder of Halli R. Burton, 18 months. A Will County jury deliberated about two hours before convicting Ponshe on Dec. 18.

Last month Halli's father, Josh Burton, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Ponshe in Greene County, where he lives.

The lawsuit seeks $1 million in punitive damages, as well as funeral and burial expenses.

Halli Burton was the daughter of a woman Ponshe met on an Internet dating website and who had moved into his home days before.

Ponshe was engaged to Jessi Dunlap of White Hall, Ill. Prosecutors said he punched the toddler in the head and back after she woke up crying in the early morning of April 15, 2009, causing injuries that ultimately killed her.

While Dunlap said the toddler appeared to be fine the day after she was beaten, the girl slipped into a coma during an evening nap, prosecutors said.

A doctor testified during Ponshe's trial that the girl's brain had been gradually swelling since she was hit, which eventually stopped her breathing and her heart.

Ponshe initially told police he didn't touch Burton, but later admitted he hit her twice in the head, prosecutors said. Autopsy photos showed upwards of 20 bruises covering the toddler's scalp.

Ponshe is scheduled to be sentenced in Will County by Judge Daniel Rozak on Feb. 25.

This week Ponshe's homeowner's insurance company filed a document in Will County court saying it wants a judge to find that the company is not liable for the monetary damages sought by Burton's lawsuit.

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