DALLAS – Elizabeth Escalona, the Dallas mother who glued her two-year-old daughter’s hands to a wall and beat her into a coma, has been sentenced to 99 years in prison.
The 23-year-old faced anywhere from probation to life in prison for the abuse. Family members openly wept in the courtroom after the verdict was read but Escalona sat motionless, offering no visible reaction.
"You savagely beat your child to the edge of death," said State District Judge Larry Mitchell as he read his verdict. "For this, you must be punished."
Escalona pled guilty to a charge of injury to a child in July. The abuse occured in September of 2011. In addition to gluing her daughter's hands, she beat the two-year-old until she fell into a coma. During testimony Thursday, the prosecution showed Escalona a photo of the abused child and made her count the bruises she inflicted.
Leaving the court Friday, her mother, Ofelia Escalona, said, "My God is in control." Her daughter will be eligible for parole after serving 30 years.
During closing arguments Friday, Escalona’s defense again pleaded for a light sentence. Attorney Angie N’Duka argued the mother snapped under pressure and isn’t a monster, the phrase the prosecution literally hung over her head in court Thursday.
"Everybody has obstacles in their life and the day that the justice system sends the message to people with obstacles that that becomes some excuse for your bad behavior, for your poor choices, is the day that we should open the doors of the jail up and let everybody out," prosecutor Eren Price said after the verdict.
N’Duka described her client’s difficult upbringing, saying Escalona was alone and her life was “not normal.” After the verdict, N'Duka said she was "shocked by the judge's decision" and promised to appeal. Escalona was offered a 45-year plea deal but turned it down.
After the verdict was read, N'Duka said the mother of five asked about what would happen to her children.
"This is way too harsh, it is way too harsh," she said. "She is but a kid, she's only 23-years-old. She's been a victim all her life."
Price began her final argument with a photo of the injured two-year-old Jocelyn Cedillo, bruised and swollen at her own mother’s hands. Price told the court that Escalona was given a gift and said the picture is what she did with it.
Price, who pushed for at least 45 years in prison, said Escalona “lies to cover evil” and has not contributed one positive thing to the community.
Judge Mitchell then recessed the court and came back with the verdict 15 minutes later.
"We are pleased with the judge's decision," Price told reporters.
Escalona testified in her own defense on Wednesday, admitting again to beating her daugher until she fell into a coma and gluing her hands to a wall with an adhesive known as Super Glue.
"I kicked her, I hit her, I kicked her constantly," Escalona said Wednesday. "I'm not a monster. I'm not what everyone thinks I am."
The prosecution pressed the mother aggressively about the abuse. When Escalona admitted she lied to experts and doctors assigned to the case, Price flashed a screen above her that said "LIAR."
Price also made Escalona hold a bottle of Super Glue. She clutched it and wept under a screen that then read "MONSTER."
Escalona's daughter is recovering in a hospital from her injuries.