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A man convicted of causing the death of a 21-month-old child by draping a rattlesnake around her neck was sentenced Monday to up to 15 years in the Utah State Prison.

Fifth District Judge J. Philip Eves sentenced Darrell Lawrence Wessendorf to one to 15 years in prison, saying the bizarre crime was one of the most tragic cases he had ever been involved in.

"This is a tragic case from every point of view. It's probably one of the most tragic cases I've ever tried," Eves said in pronouncing sentence. "This court cannot look upon the taking of another person's life with the least degree of allowance."

Wessendorf, 24, was convicted Feb. 24 of a reduced charge of manslaughter in the snakebite death of Stevie Kirkwood, LaVerkin, Washington County.

Wessendorf, who had been living with the victim's family for three months, draped a 5-foot rattlesnake around the toddler's neck. The snake bit the victim on the shoulder and she later died.