Man convicted of death of 6-year-old girl in New Mexico

A 24-year-old man has been convicted in the 2018 rape and strangulation killing of a 6-year-old girl who lived with her mother in a New Mexico home shared with at last seven other people

LOS LUNAS, NM – A 24-year-old man has been convicted in the 2018 rape and strangulation killing of a 6-year-old girl who lived with her mother in a New Mexico home shared with at last seven other people.

Six hours of jury deliberations ended Friday evening with the conviction of Leland Hust for criminal sexual penetration of a child under 13 and child abuse resulting in death.

Another jury acquitted Hust in 2021 of first-degree murder in the death of Ariana Jade Romero but deadlocked on the other two charges.

Hust faces mandatory sentences of 30 years and 18 years on the two counts. A sentencing date was not immediately set.

The trial was moved from Sandoval County to Valencia County because of concerns that news coverage of the case could bias the jury against Hust.

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