After more than an hour in the cinder-block meeting room talking about accidentally killing his daughter, Balta looks tired. Six years in prison have taken a toll. Nobody would mistake him for a little boy now.
During his time behind bars, Balta has earned his GED and now helps other inmates study for the exam. He does carpentry and has crafted an elaborate wooden dollhouse for a niece. He goes months without hearing from anyone on the outside. (As part of his sentence, he is forbidden from contacting the Bashford family.)
Florida Department of Corrections
Antonio Balta has spent the past five years at Sumter Correctional Institution in Bushnell, Florida. When he gets out, he'll likely be deported.
His cell is lined with photos of Veronika. He says he thinks of her every day. "Every time I see kids on TV, I think about holding her," he says. "She would be 7 now. I think about what she would look like and what we would be doing for her birthday."
A prison administrator lets Balta know it's time to go. He walks slowly through narrow halls toward the prison yard. The hot summer sun blazes in through the door frame. Balta pauses for a moment before stepping outside.
There are 14 years left on his sentence, but he'll never get out of prison.