COLUMBIA – A Columbia man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 2007 deaths of a Richland County mother and daughter.

The State newspaper reports (http://bit.ly/HhdJKe) that 30-year-old Julian Whatley was sentenced Tuesday in Columbia.

Whatley was sentenced after pleading guilty to two counts of murder in the slayings of 45-year-old Crystal Ferguson and her 9-year-old daughter, Hillary Wright. Prosecutors said Whatley killed the two by throwing gasoline in their home and burning them to death.

Prosecutors had originally sought the death penalty against Whatley. That trial had been scheduled to start Monday.

Whatley also pleaded guilty to two other sexual assaults in Richland County. Prosecutors said he was linked to those assaults by DNA evidence.