A San Jose man convicted of stabbing to death his pregnant girlfriend and two daughters has been sentenced to death after an emotional courtroom appeal by the victims’ relatives. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Jerome Brock issued the sentence Thursday to Rodrigo Paniagua Jr., who was convicted June 10 of murdering five-months-pregnant Leticia Chavez and their daughters, 6-year-old Adrina and 3-year-old AnaLisa in October 2005. He had been accused of stabbing them multiple times as they tried to fight him off and then, after setting their bodies on fire, walking outside their house to smoke a cigarette. Although a jury in July had recommended the death penalty, Paniagua’s attorney had asked the judge to impose life imprisonment instead. Brock turned down the request after Chavez’s relatives made emotional appeals to have Paniagua put to death.
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By the time you finish reading this, 15 children will have been abused; In the next five minutes, 30 more; Within the next hour, 360 more; And by tonight, close to 8,000+ children will have suffered from abuse, 5 of which will die. Child abuse has increased 134% since 1980 and is now considered a worldwide epidemic. The high jump in child abuse deaths and the shocking increase in statistics highlights the frightening lack of public knowledge.
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