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13-year-old boy jailed after using wrestling moves to kill girl

A teenager who said he accidentally killed a six-year-old friend while imitating professional wrestlers has been convicted of first-degree murder.

The jury in Ford Lauderdale, Florida, accepted the prosecution's contention that 13-year-old Lionel Tate intentionally stamped, punched and kicked Tiffany Eunick in 1999.

Tate faces life without parole, although that could be commuted by the governor.

Before the trial, prosecutors offered Lionel a three-year sentence plus 10 years' probation if he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

But his lawyer, Jim Lewis, said professional wrestling was the central issue in Tiffany's death.

He said Lionel was immature and did not understand that professional wrestlers were trained to act as if they beat each other, without hurting each other.

No-one disputed that Lionel, then 12, beat Tiffany to death in 1999, in the home he shared with his mother, who was baby-sitting for the girl. Ms Grossett-Tate was asleep at the time.

A post mortem showed that Tiffany suffered a fractured skull, damaged liver, broken rib, internal haemorrhaging and cuts and bruises.

Lionel made a videotape with a court-appointed psychologist in which he claimed accidentally to have thrown Tiffany into a wall while trying to throw her onto a sofa.

The defence's own experts conceded that Lionel's story would not have accounted for all of Tiffany's injuries, which one prosecution expert said were comparable to falling from a three-storey building.