HOUSTON -- A Dallas mother who admitted super-gluing her toddler’s hands to a wall also beat the girl so severely she ended up in a coma, according to experts who testified at a sentencing hearing.
Elizabeth Escalona, 23, pleaded guilty to injury to a child on July 12, according to a spokeswoman for the Dallas County District Attorney's Office. She faces a potential life sentence, although prosecutors are seeking a 45-year sentence.
Escalona apparently became so frustrated with 2-year-old daughter Jocelyn Cedillo's “potty training issue” on Sept. 7, 2011, that she glued the toddler to the wall of their apartment and beat her, according to testimony at Monday's hearing.
Escalona called her mother, crying and hysterical, according to police records. The older woman found Jocelyn unresponsive on the floor beside a bed in a northwest Dallas apartment and rushed her to a hospital. The girl survived and is now living with Escalona's mother.
Evidence photos displayed in court Monday showed Jocelyn with numerous bruises, cuts and bite marks shortly after she was brought to Children’s Medical Center Dallas, where she remained in a coma for two days.
“She had bruises everywhere. She even kicked her in the vagina,” Dallas County district attorney spokeswoman Debbie Denmon told the Los Angeles Times.
Dr. Amy Barton, who worked at the hospital at the time, testified about Jocelyn's injuries Monday, choking up when asked what was remarkable about the injuries, Denmon said.
“The entire picture was very shocking,” Barton said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “I see a lot of children and this was one of the most shocking things that I’ve seen.”
The toddler recovered from her injuries, although Denmon said, “It’s too early to tell if she’s going to have any brain injuries to where she’s going to be developmentally delayed. Right now she’s talking and she’s happy.”
Jocelyn and her three siblings were placed in foster care, then with Escalona's mother. A fifth child, a boy born while Escalona was in jail, was also placed with her mother, Denmon said.
Both Escalona and her mother have been investigated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Denmon said, but the investigations did not result in criminal charges, she said.
Also testifying Monday for the state were Jesse Gonzalez, a forensic interviewer with the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center and Dallas Police Det. Able Lopez. Prosecutors plan to call half a dozen more people to testify Tuesday when the hearing resumes.
The day Jocelyn was injured, Escalona wrote on a Facebook page, “Why does God put obstacles in my life?” and changed her profile photo to one of her and Jocelyn, according to the Dallas Morning News. Her Myspace page, where she appeared to use the nickname "Thug Girl," still lists her as a "Proud parent" and features photos of her clutching babies.
Opponents have started a Facebook page of their own, "Lock Up Elizabeth Escalona," with more than 4,400 likes, as well as an online petition signed by more than 390 people calling on Judge Larry Mitchell to sentence Escalona to life in prison.
Escalona's Dallas-based attorney, Angie N’Duka, was in court early Monday and could not be reached for comment. She is expected to call five people to testify Tuesday, although it was not clear whether Escalona would be among them, Denmon said.
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