Mother and Boyfriend Convicted of Murder in Death of 13-year-old

Four years after the tragic death of 13-year-old Christina on August 5, 2019, due to a heatstroke inside a hot Volkswagen, a Colleton County jury reached a verdict on September 1, 2023. The jury convicted Christina’s mother, Rita Pangalanga, and her mother’s then-boyfriend, Larry King Jr., of murder.

Pangalanga and King

In a courtroom packed with somber onlookers, Rita Pangalanga was sentenced to 37 years in prison, while Larry King Jr. received a 32-year prison term for their roles in Christina’s death. Christina, who was non-verbal and wheelchair-bound, was intentionally left in the scorching car for over five hours by Pangalanga and King, who were under the influence of methamphetamine at the time. They made the conscious decision to place her in the backseat of the vehicle, leaving it turned off, and walked away, fully aware of the dangers.

Testimony from an expert witness called by the state revealed that Christina’s internal body temperature had reached a staggering 110 degrees inside the car, which had become an unbearable 135 degrees. Disturbing crime scene photos entered into evidence depicted blisters and burns on Christina’s body, highlighting the severity of her suffering during those fateful hours.

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