BOISE -- A jury wasted no time finding justice for Robert Manwill, finding his caretaker, Daniel Ehrlick Jr., guilty of first-degree murder by torture.
After 28 days of testimony, more than 100 witnesses, evidence, and arguments, in one of the highest-profile murder cases in Idaho history, a jury of 12 people and three alternates took less than two hours to decide Ehrlick s fate.
Daniel Ehrlick was found guilty of the following charges:
- 1st degree murder by torture and commission of aggravated battery
- Failure to report a death to authorities
Robert Manwill, 8, went missing on the evening of July 24, 2009. That night, a massive search began, consisting of neighbors, family, and members of the community.
The little boy's body was found almost two weeks later in the New York Canal near Kuna.
As days and months wore on, suspicion began to center on Robert Ehrlick.
Now, Ehrlick will face up to life in prison for his crimes.
As the verdict was read, Ehrlick sat stoically in his seat with his head down. At the same time, an unknown bystander in the courtroom exclaimed yes!
Robert s family members sat in the room with tears in their eyes.
Jurors were then presented with additional testimony on a so-called sentencing enhancement, asking the jury if two or more felonies were committed. The jury returned to deliberate and quickly came back with yet another guilty verdict.
Early Thursday, in the closing arguments, prosecutor Jill Longhurst laid out Ehrlick s motive in killing Robert Manwill.
This defendant was stuck in that apartment with a little boy who had become the enemy. A little boy who he had come to despise, she told the jury. Robert was his enemy, was the defendant s enemy, because Robert Manwill was the one person who could take away what this defendant wanted most.
Longhurst said that one thing was Ehrlick s purported son Aiden.
The reason that Robert had that power, the reason that Robert had that ability is because one word from him to the right person, to a social worker, to his father, to somebody who would report it, and Health and Welfare would come in and they would take Aiden away.
Soon after the verdict was handed down, Judge Darla Williamson addressed the jury and thanked them for their dedication and service following the verdict.
I found this case to be one of the most difficult, complicated, fascinating and interesting cases I've ever had as a trial judge, said Judge Williamson.
Outside the courtroom, Robert's father, Charles Manwill, thanked law enforcement and the community for all of their help and support:
It's been a long two years, but today, the system worked and we got some justice for my son. I want to extend my thanks to the Boise Police Department, Ada County Prosecutor's Office and the City of Boise and surrounding areas for all the support we got and help from the public. Thank you.
These two years have been the hardest thing a family could ever go through. We lost a child. And then our family, we lost Melissa, we lost Aidan, , one-time family spokesperson Trish Burrill said. We lost a whole piece of our family because of two people's stupid actions.
We have closure. Robert has justice. And God will take care of the rest of it, Trish said.
Scott asked Trish if there was any point during the trial that she thought Ehrlick might not be found guilty.
She responded, Oh yeah, absolutely. Who didn't think that? There wasn't any fingerprints. There wasn't any DNA. There wasn't any CSI, Law and Order effect in this case. But once I sat there through closing arguments, I knew. They had it. They knew exactly what they were doing and they did a very good job at it.
I think that if you listen to our opening and our closing there are certain things the jury had to know, and if we were successful in communicating that we had a strong opportunity for conviction, prosecutor Jill Longhurst said. That had to do with the prior injury three-to-five days before, it had to do with the brutality, as well as the different statements he had made.
Even Ehrlick s father, Daniel Ehrlick Sr. called KTVB and said he agreed with the verdict.
I will always remember Robert, Ehrlick Sr. said. I want to thank the prosecution of the State of Idaho for doing this (for Robert). They've been great.
Ehrlick Sr. went on to say he never plans to speak to his son again.
DanielEhrlick will be sentenced on September 2, 2011, at 9 a.m.
-KTVB's Scott Evans, Jamie Grey, Justin Corr, Kelsey Jacobson, and Don Day contributed to this report.