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Mid-Missouri man sentenced to life in prison for beating 3-year-old to death

A Mid-Missouri man will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing a 3-year-old boy.

In January, a jury found Thomas “T.J” Presley guilty of first degree murder and child abuse for the death of Blake Litton. Prosecutors said Presley beat Blake to death in Stover in February 2012 and tried to cover it up as a hit and run accident on Highway 135.

Friday, Judge Kenneth Hayden sentenced Presley to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In court, Morgan County Prosecutor Dustin Dunklee asked the judge to sentence Presley to life in prison without parole for the first degree murder charge, and life in prison for the charge of child abuse resulting in death to be served at the same time. Presley’s defense attorney Katie Comstock then asked the judge to follow the state’s recommendation, which he did.

The victim’s grandmother, Diana Litton, read a letter to the courtroom which said Blake’s now 6-year-old sister is afraid of Presley.

“She thought that he need to stay in jail until he died,” Litton said. “And when we discussed the sentencing today, she said she felt like if he were ever to get out of prison that she would be scared. That he would do to her what he did to her brother.”

Presley apologized to the family in court today. He said he takes full responsibility for his actions and did not mean for any of it to happen.

Litton said Friday’s sentencing gave her family some sense of relief.

“It gives me closure,” Litton said. “It gives me relief that I never have to think about him again, ever.”

A murder trial is set for the victim’s mother, Jamie Litton, in August in Laclede County. The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said it believes Litton helped Presley hide the murder from deputies.

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