Babysitter testifies in Charlotte County child murder trial

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. It was a tearful meeting 18 years in the making.

The babysitter of a 3-year-old girl who was raped and killed nearly two decades ago cried Wednesday as she faced the girl’s family for the first time.

Melissa Harding-Jones testified in the trial of ex-boyfriend Keith Wilson, who was arrested in 2013 in Kentucky after new evidence implicated him in the 1999 death of toddler Pilar Rodriguez. Wilson is accused of raping, beating and ultimately killing the girl, whose body was never found.

Members of Pilar’s family were in attendance in the courtroom.

Wilson refused to take Pilar to a hospital after she hit her head because the bruises from her beating would become evident, Harding-Jones testified.

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Harding-Jones was also arrested and accused of being accessory after the fact. She admitted during the defense’s cross-examination that she hopes her testimony will lead to a lighter sentence for her.

The trial began Tuesday and is expected to last two weeks.

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