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Officials say a Kansas girl was beaten so badly, her heart ruptured. Her father now faces prison

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man with a string of prior domestic violence and child abuse cases could get life in prison for brutalizing his two young daughters, including an 8-year-old whose heart ruptured when she was viciously stomped last year, prosecutors said.

The 52-year-old Wichita man pleaded no contest Thursday to first-degree murder and eight other counts, including kidnapping, battery, child endangerment and witness intimidation, the Wichita Eagle reported. A no-contest plea is one in which the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to get a conviction.

Authorities have said the man already had been investigated or charged in various domestic violence and child abuse cases, including some in Oklahoma and Minnesota when he became the sole caregiver of his 8- and 9-year-old daughters sometime before 2022. He is accused of keeping them hidden in his home and brutalizing them for months in 2022 and 2023.

On May 8, 2023, investigators said the man viciously stomped the younger girl, causing her death. An autopsy found that her heart had ruptured in the attack and that she had also suffered broken ribs, a broken leg, head wounds and pattern wounds indicating she had been whipped from head to toe with an object. Medical examination of the 9-year-old girl found she also had been severely beaten and that her pelvis, spine, and several ribs and teeth had been broken.

The Associated Press is not naming the man to protect the identity of his surviving daughter.

The witness intimidation charge against him stems from his threats to his surviving daughter to tell police she had caused her younger sister's injuries, or else he would beat her, police said.

The man's plea came just days before he was set to go to trial Monday. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped several other counts against him. The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office said it will request a prison term of 25 years to life for the murder count and another 20 years for the other counts when the man is sentenced April 25.

An attorney for the man declined to comment when reached by The Associated Press on Friday.