DALLAS — Elizabeth Escalona has admitted that when she beat her then 2-year-old daughter and glued her hands to a wall, she behaved like a monster.
Where both sides disagree is whether she’s a monster now.
Prosecutors and Escalona’s attorney, Angie N’Duka, are scheduled to present their closing arguments on her sentencing Friday morning. Escalona, who pleaded guilty to felony injury of a child, faces up to life in prison. Prosecutors want a 45-year sentence.
State District Judge Larry Mitchell will decide Escalona’s sentence.
Prosecutor Eren Price has repeatedly described the 23-year-old Escalona as a “monster.” Price ripped into Escalona on Thursday, repeatedly calling her a liar and ordering her to look at photos of the injuries she inflicted on her daughter, Jocelyn Cedillo.
In one photo, dozens of red and brown marks from the September 2011 beating covered Jocelyn’s back. Price told Escalona to count how many bruises there were. Escalona sobbed for several seconds.
“Ms. Escalona, if you can do it, you can look at it,” Price said in a loud, sharp voice.
Police say Escalona kicked her daughter in the stomach, beat her with a milk jug, then stuck her hands to an apartment wall with an adhesive commonly known as Super Glue. Escalona’s other children told authorities their mother attacked Jocelyn due to potty training problems.
Jocelyn suffered bleeding in her brain, a fractured rib, bruises and bite marks, and was in a coma for a couple of days. Some skin had been torn off her hands, where doctors also found paint chips from the apartment wall, witnesses testified.
Escalona has admitted she behaved like a monster when she beat Jocelyn but insists she isn’t one now.
Price asked Escalona what she thought should happen in the case. Escalona replied in a soft, halting voice: “I should be put away.” Then, she added, “But I also think I should be given a second chance.”
When Price asked her why, she responded: “Because I’m not a monster.”
The toddler’s grandmother, Ofelia Escalona, said her daughter “made a mistake. She’s not a monster. She needs help.” Ofelia Escalona tearfully asked the judge to sentence her daughter to probation, saying she could be “fixed” and needed to work to support her children.
And N’Duka, Escalona’s attorney, pointed out repeatedly that Escalona had taken the blame for attacking her daughter.
“She said to you, ‘I take full responsibility for what happened,”’ N’Duka said in questioning a Dallas Police officer who investigated the case, Senior Cpl. Abel Lopez.
Escalona acknowledged several missteps in her childhood: hanging around with gang members and trying marijuana around the age of 11, assaulting her mother at 12 and getting pregnant with her first child at 14.
She also admitted drinking and doing drugs after she was released from jail on bail in February.
Despite what she described as problems paying rent and other bills, Escalona admitted she was using marijuana about twice a day in the time before she attacked Jocelyn.