updated 2/13/2009 5:55:04 PM ET 2009-02-13T22:55:04

A self-proclaimed polygamist was sentenced Friday to seven consecutive life prison terms for torturing some of his 19 children and falsely imprisoning two of his three wives.

Mansa Musa Muhummed, 55, also was sentenced to additional terms totaling 16 years and eight months by Riverside County Superior Court Judge F. Paul Dickerson III, who said Muhummed’s treatment of his family amounted to “a reign of terror over defenseless children.”

“If his appeals are exhausted and he does not prevail, he will die in prison,” said Peter Morreale, Muhummed’s attorney.

Muhummed was convicted in June of seven counts of torture, two counts of false imprisonment and additional charges of child endangerment and spousal abuse.

At his trial, several of Muhummed’s children and stepchildren testified against him, telling jurors they had been beaten, starved, strung up by their feet and forced to eat vomit and feces.

“I’m still having nightmares and flashbacks,” said Marlon Boddie, 29. “He don’t need no mercy. He don’t need no type of mercy. He knew what he was doing.”

Muhummed — whose given name was Richard Boddie — denied the charges and blamed one of his wives for the alleged abuse. He was a convert to the Muslim faith, which he said gave him the right to have multiple wives.

“They need to adjust their lives as they see fit and hope and pray God has mercy on them,” he said of his children. He also told the court that he accepted he may have made mistakes as a father.

He was arrested in 1999 after one of his wives slipped a 13-page letter to a postal service worker describing the abuse.

Another wife, Marva Barfield, agreed to plead guilty to one count of child endangerment and testified against Muhummed. She will likely be sentenced to time served, Deputy District Attorney Julie Baldwin said.

Sentencing came nearly a decade after Muhummed’s arrest. His trial followed nine years of delays in which he represented himself and changed lawyers multiple times. Earlier Friday, he sought to have his attorney removed and filed a motion for a new trial, claiming he had new evidence to help clear his name, but the judge denied the motions.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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