Man Gets Death For Killing Toddler

Friday, August 18th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) — A man who admitted dousing his minivan in gasoline and setting it on fire with his 2-year-old daughter strapped inside has been sentenced to death.

Michael Passaro, 38, pleaded guilty to murder and arson on Monday in the November 1998 killing. He was sentenced Thursday.

``There's no joy in sending someone to death row,'' said Prosecutor Greg Hembree. ``There's satisfaction that it was the appropriate sentence. Michael Joseph Passaro deserves the death penalty. The burning death of a 2-year-old is inexcusable.''

Passaro set the minivan on fire outside his estranged wife's condominium in November 1998. The couple's daughter, Margaret Ann was strapped in a child safety seat.

Passaro and his wife, Karen, had split in June of that year. Karen Passaro had primary custody of their daughter, and he had visitation rights.

Karen Passaro sobbed when the sentence was read.

``I will live like this forever, for the rest of my life,'' she said. ``I can't concentrate or even focus some days. Maggie will never get to grow up ... And in the process he took away my future.''