Robert William Boettger of Cambridge has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2011 death of four-year-old Rayna Gagne.

The 29-year-old was charged with murder, but was found guilty of the lesser charge in a Kitchener court on Monday.

Boettger had been babysitting the girl at the Cambridge home of her mother, Jenn Taylor, who was at work. At the time Boettger was Taylor’s live-in boyfriend.

The court was told he struck the child because she wouldn’t go to bed. She was hit hard on the face and spanked, then apparently hit her head as she stumbled and fell.

Gagne died of head trauma two days after the incident in early February 2011.

In court, the girl’s family wore t-shirts in remembrance and described her as an angel, a girl who was happy, playful and full of life.

Her godmother Tracy Houtsma says she was “Very smiley, very affectionate, shy in her own way. Just really awesome.”

Gagne’s mother was emotional during the proceedings but says her daughter still lives in her heart and that organ donation “was Rayna’s gift of life. She gave life to four other children.”

Grandfather John Taylor has strong words about Boettger’s future.

“We don’t get to see [Rayna] graduate school, get married, you know. I don’t think he should have any freedom, I really don’t. It’s not fair that we can't see her. Why should he get to see the day of light?”

Boettger showed little emotion as victim impact statements were read in court. He will be sentenced in December.