LOS ANGELES – Samantha Runnion's mother said she's angry at the jury that freed the man now accused in her 5-year-old daughter's kidnapping and slaying.
The suspect, Alejandro Avila, 27, was acquitted last year of molesting two 9-year-old girls, including a former girlfriend's daughter who lived in the same townhouse complex as Samantha.
"I blame every juror who let him go," Erin Runnion said Thursday in a television interview. "Every juror who sat on that trial and believed this man over those little girls, I will never understand.''
Samantha was snatched in front of her Orange County home on July 15 by a stranger who used the ruse of searching for a lost puppy. Her body was found the next day off a rural highway near Lake Elsinore, some 50 miles away in neighboring Riverside County.
Avila has been charged with kidnapping, murder and sexual assault in Samantha's death. Avila has said he is innocent.
"I have very little room for anger, very little room, it's all hurt, it's all sadness,'' Runnion said of her feelings toward Samantha's killer.
Runnion said she hasn't decided whether she would attend Avila's trial.
"The district attorney has my complete faith and our judicial process is going to have to do better this time and I think it will,'' she said.
Friday would have been Samantha's sixth birthday, and her mother said she has planned a private family celebration with a Peter Pan cake and decorations. The family held a private burial for Samantha on Thursday, a day after more than 4,000 people attended an emotional service at the Crystal Cathedral.