Those seeking to understand why Jake Musga did what he did to 2-year-old Chayson Colley in a Tacoma apartment earlier this year left Pierce County Superior Court on Thursday unsatisfied.
Neither Musga nor his attorneys nor prosecutors nor the judge nor Musga himself were able to explain why the 19-year-old man beat and beat and beat his live-in girlfriend's son until the boy's skin was covered with bruises and his brain and internal organs were injured beyond repair.
Of course, what possible reason could Musga have had for killing a toddler who looked up to him as a daddy figure?
Musga told investigators he "lost it" after Chayson urinated on him as he changed the boy's diaper on March 29, but Judge Bryan Chushcoff said Thursday Musga's reaction exceeded a person's capacity to understand.
Musga, who previously pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Chayson's death, also admitted he sexually assaulted the child and pleaded to first-degree child rape as well.
"It is strange to have the number of blows that must have rained down on this child in a short amount of time," Chushcoff said during Musga's sentencing hearing. "Whatever anger motivated Mr. Musga was not abated for hours and hours. Chayson, of course, was too young to understand all this. But he certainly would have understood fear. He certainly would have understood pain, and he certainly understood that this was not stopping."
For that, Chushcoff said, Musga deserved a sentence above the standard range of 21 years, nine months to 29 years, 11 months in prison. The judge imposed one: 50 years to life.
Musga must serve most of the 50 years before being eligible to ask the state's Indeterminate Sentence Review Board to release him from prison. That board could keep him incarcerated forever if its members decide he's not ready to rejoin society at that point.
It was a long sentence for a young man, but deputy prosecutors Angelica Williams and Jared Ausuerer had asked for more. They wanted 60 years to life.
Williams called what happened to Chayson "an atrocious crime" that was tantamount to torture and said Musga deserved "each and every minute" of her recommended sentence.
She displayed a PowerPoint presentation during her argument. It include photographs of the boy's battered body and the bloody scene inside the apartment where he was beaten.
"Chayson Colley literally was beaten from head to toe," Williams said.
The boy's grandmothers - Bobbye Jones and Cathy Colley - took turns addressing Chushcoff. They described their grandson as a loving mischievous boy who loved to run and play trucks and carve pumpkins.
"He was the star of our family," said Cathy Colley, who asked for a sentence of 120 years.
Laura Colley, Chayson's mother, then addressed the court. Colley met Musga in a substance-abuse rehabilitation program last year, and they moved in together in February upon leaving the program.
Musga, who was unemployed, looked after Chayson while Colley worked. She planned to leave her son with Musga overnight for the first time March 29 so she could go out to celebrate her birthday.
"My life has been forever changed by Jake Musga," she told Chushcoff. "He took my son, who was the best part of me."
Laura Colley said her son seemed to love Musga.
"Jake had always promised to protect us no matter what the cost," she said. "To give Chayson the father that he had always deserved. Chayson trusted Jake, and that night Jake betrayed that trust."
Musga's mother, Janet, then read a letter from her family into the record.
"Nothing like this should have happened to any of our families," Janet Musga said. "We, the Musga family, would like to say we're extremely sorry, and we would like to ask you for forgiveness and mercy for Jake's actions."
The defendant's attorney, Richard Warner, spoke on Musga's behalf.
Warner said Musga deserved a standard-range sentence of 25 years to life. Musga, who said he was drinking the night of the attack and blacked out, has gotten sober and is a different person, the attorney said.
"There are no excuses, your honor, but Mr. Musga does want to take responsibility," Warner said. "We would like the court to give him the opportunity to one day show he has learned from this horrific mistake."
Musga then stood up to speak for himself.
He said he knew no words from him would bring peace to those who loved Chayson but that he felt compelled to try.
"Chayson's was an innocent life that was taken away," he said. "I just want everyone to know how truly sorry I am. I would trade my life for his back without hesitation."
He went on.
"I don't know why I thought I could take care of a young child when I can barely take care of myself. Mixing alcohol and baby-sitting was completely irresponsible of me, especially when I am not even old enough to drink," Musga said. "I did things I'd never do with a sober mind, but it did happen and the damage is done. It seems like a nightmare that never ends, and I know it must be worse for the families."
He then asked for forgiveness.
Chushcoff, as is customary, had the last word.
"Certainly, when one is intoxicated one is putting not only oneself at risk but anyone having to deal with them," the judge said. "That was a choice he made."