A man who was convicted Wednesday night of murdering 13-year-old Cori Baker received a life prison sentence in a case that touched hearts beyond the Tulsa community.
Tulsa County jurors deliberated for about 4 1/2 hours and found Marquis Bullock, 20, guilty of first-degree murder.
The life term allows the possibility of parole. For prison purposes, a life term equates to 45 years, and the result requires Bullock to serve at least 85 percent — 38 years and three months — before he will be eligible for parole. The only other punishment option for first-degree murder in this case was life without parole possible.
Daniel Baker, Cori's father, said after the trial that he was "ecstatic and completely delighted" with the verdict.
"It's been a long, hard two years," said Baker, who added that he has relied on his faith in God.
Bullock appeared calm as the verdict was announced.
Assistant District Attorney Bill Musseman maintained that Bullock killed the Tulsa girl after picking her up from the Union Alternative School, 5656 S. 129th East Ave., on Nov. 9, 2007.
After that afternoon, "no one ever saw her again, and he had nothing but denials," Musseman said.
Cori's disappearance prompted "some of the biggest search efforts in state history," he said.
Some of her bones and remains finally were recovered March 21, 2008, in a wooded area outside the boundary of a playing field at Paintball Adventure Games, near the Creek Turnpike and 49th West Avenue in Creek County, evidence indicated.
A medical examiner could not determine the cause or manner of her death.
Bullock did not take the witness stand on his own behalf.
He stood trial for first-degree murder, but District Judge Clancy Smith also gave jurors the option of returning a verdict on either second-degree murder or first-degree manslaughter.
In a closing argument, defense lawyer Kathy Fry asserted that there was "not one piece of physical evidence" to indicate that Bullock "killed Cori Baker accidentally, intentionally or otherwise."
"Pinning a crime on him when the evidence is not there" is "not justice," Fry told jurors.
Bullock was the boyfriend of Cori's oldest sister, Courtney Baker, and the father of Courtney Baker's son.
Musseman told jurors that Bullock had a demonstrated "pattern of inappropriate sexual advances to his girlfriend's sisters."
Tulsa Police Detective Vic Regalado said Bullock continually lied to police and gave four different accounts of his actions on the afternoon Cori disappeared.
Bullock has been in the Tulsa Jail since Nov. 13, 2007. His formal sentencing is set for Oct. 26.