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Man Guilty in Torturing of Toddler

July 30, 1998|THAO HUA

A jury convicted an Orange man Wednesday of torturing and sexually assaulting a 14-month-old girl in an attack captured on videotape.

Jurors deliberated for about a day to find Richard Leonard, 30, guilty of beating and molesting the toddler whom his wife, Lisa, was baby-sitting. He faces a maximum of life in prison when he is sentenced next month.

Lisa Leonard had set up a video camera in the couple's living room last year after unexplained bruises were found on the child, prosecutors said. The wife later reviewed the tape, which recorded her husband attacking the child, and gave it to police.

Several jurors on Wednesday said that watching the tape was among the most traumatic experiences of the trial. But they said they also considered other evidence such as doctors' testimony about the extent of injuries.

The defense had argued that Leonard attacked the toddler during a bout of severe depression, not maliciousness, a motive required to find him guilty of torture.

Jim Appel, who represented Leonard, said, "He mistreated the child. There's no question about it. But he didn't get any pleasure out of it. . . . He didn't torture the child."

The defense also disputed the sexual assault evidence, saying that the videotape did not show Leonard molesting the child.

"Other people had access to that child," Appel said. But the video, he said, ultimately swayed jurors emotionally.

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