ROANOKE CO., Va. -

A man accused of killing a 13-month-old baby pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Roanoke County court on Thursday morning.

Preston King will be sentenced in February or March. King was taking care of his girlfriend's 13-month-old daughter in July 2012 at a home on Rutrough Road in Roanoke County. The child, Veralee Craft, died of head injuries.

King was originally charged with a capital murder offense, child abuse and neglect and malicious wounding. The first-degree murder plea means he'll spend between 20 years to life in prison.

Prosecutors recounted every detail of what they think really happened to Veralee Craft the night of July 22, 2012.  She died two days later.

King kept his head down for much of today's proceedings.

For Craft's father, hearing the evidence against his daughters killer wasn't easy.

"A part of me feels relieved that this part of the trial is over. And then again a part of me. It brought up old feelings from the beginning," Jonathan Craft said.

King originally told police that Craft had fallen in his workshop while he was fixing a fan.  After Veralee Craft's body was examined, at least three forensic experts determined she had broken bones all over her body and sustained blunt force trauma to her head.

Prosecutors believe King had abused his new girlfriend's daughter in the weeks leading up to her death.
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Original story from July 2012

A Roanoke County man has been arrested in connection to the death of a 13-month-old baby girl.

27-year-old Preston King is facing charges related to the child's death. King is the boyfriend of the baby's mother.

Roanoke County Police were called to a home on the 4100 block of Rutrough Road shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday. The child wasn't breathing when emergency crews arrived.

An investigation revealed the child had blunt-force injuries to her head. The baby, Veralee Craft of Roanoke, died at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

King has been charged with aggravated malicious wounding and felony child abuse. He's being held at the Roanoke County/Salem Jail without bond.

An investigation revealed that the child's mother, 21-year-old Chelsy Lawrence of Roanoke, left the baby in the King's care.

Jonathan Craft, the baby's father, says it's hard to accept that his 13-month-old daughter is gone.

"It makes me really upset especially if you look at her she's beautiful, she's sweet," says Craft, "She was a good baby."

Craft wasn't told about his daughter's injuries until Monday morning. He says he immediately went to Roanoke Memorial Hospital and stayed by her side.

"When I saw her she looked terrible," says Craft, "Her eyes were puffy and red. She had contusions on her head and she didn't look good at all."

Craft now wants answers. He says he called police twice in recent months because he suspected abuse and had trouble contacting her mother for visits. He says King began dating the child's mother a couple of months ago and the two were engaged.

The Roanoke County Police Department says it has no previous reports of child abuse concerning the victim.

Doctors at the hospital told Craft that his daughter had fractures on her legs and a dislocated shoulder from old injuries.

"The knees and the arms didn't even happen at the same time," says Craft who was looking into emergency custody at the time of his daughter's death, " All the fractures were in different stages of healing which means you know this had been going on for quite a while."

Veralee Marie Craft turned one on June 6. Her funeral is this Saturday in Lynchburg.

Jonathan Craft and his family are working with Suntrust Bank on a memorial fund to help with funeral costs.

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Original story from July 2012

A Roanoke County man has been arrested in connection to the death of a 13-month-old baby girl.

27-year-old Preston King is facing charges related to the child's death. King is the boyfriend of the baby's mother.

Roanoke County Police were called to a home on the 4100 block of Rutrough Road shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday. The child wasn't breathing when emergency crews arrived.

An investigation revealed the child had blunt-force injuries to her head. The baby, Veralee Craft of Roanoke, died at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

King has been charged with aggravated malicious wounding and felony child abuse. He's being held at the Roanoke County/Salem Jail without bond.

An investigation revealed that the child's mother, 21-year-old Chelsy Lawrence of Roanoke, left the baby in the King's care.

Jonathan Craft, the baby's father, says it's hard to accept that his 13-month-old daughter is gone.

"It makes me really upset especially if you look at her she's beautiful, she's sweet," says Craft, "She was a good baby."

Craft wasn't told about his daughter's injuries until Monday morning. He says he immediately went to Roanoke Memorial Hospital and stayed by her side.

"When I saw her she looked terrible," says Craft, "Her eyes were puffy and red. She had contusions on her head and she didn't look good at all."

Craft now wants answers. He says he called police twice in recent months because he suspected abuse and had trouble contacting her mother for visits. He says King began dating the child's mother a couple of months ago and the two were engaged.

The Roanoke County Police Department says it has no previous reports of child abuse concerning the victim.

Doctors at the hospital told Craft that his daughter had fractures on her legs and a dislocated shoulder from old injuries.

"The knees and the arms didn't even happen at the same time," says Craft who was looking into emergency custody at the time of his daughter's death, " All the fractures were in different stages of healing which means you know this had been going on for quite a while."

Veralee Marie Craft turned one on June 6. Her funeral is this Saturday in Lynchburg.

Jonathan Craft and his family are working with Suntrust Bank on a memorial fund to help with funeral costs.