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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Van Nuys

Man Found Guilty of Killing Toddler

May 03, 2000|CAITLIN LIU

A Van Nuys man was found guilty of second-degree murder for the beating death of his live-in girlfriend's toddler, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Jose Gerardo Acosta Jr., 26, was also convicted of assault on a child under 8 years old causing death and child endangerment for killing 20-month-old Rachael Lingle, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Jennifer Turkat. The jury in the courtroom of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Tricia Ann Bigelow deliberated two days before returning the verdict Monday.

The child, who suffered two skull fractures and a large bruise on her jaw, died Nov. 30, 1998. Her mother, Brenda Lingle, 22, currently of Las Vegas, pleaded no contest last year to one count of child endangerment, Turkat said.

The crime was especially heinous because Acosta and Lingle, who returned after he had already viciously beaten the toddler, waited at least 14 hours before taking her to the hospital, Turkat said.

"They drank margaritas as their baby lay dying. They watched TV," Turkat said. "The [child's] injuries were the kind that if it happened naturally, it would be from a major traffic accident or a fall from a three-story building."

Rachael was comatose by the time she got to the hospital and was declared brain-dead 10 days later, Turkat said.

Acosta faces a maximum sentence of 27 years and eight months to life in prison, Turkat said. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Bigelow on May 31.

Lingle faces a maximum six years in prison, Turkat said. But because she agreed to testify during Acosta's trial, Turkat said she has recommended three years' probation, counseling and parenting classes, and 400 hours of community service.

Lingle is scheduled to be sentenced May 17 by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Hoff.

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