DALLAS (AP/CBSDFW.COM) — A young Dallas mother of five who glued her toddler’s hands to a wall during a beating testified Thursday that her children were a continuing source of stress in her life.
Elizabeth Escalona was in her second day of testimony during her sentencing hearing. The 23-year-old faces up to life in prison after pleading guilty in July to injury to a child. Prosecutors are seeking a 45-year sentence.
Under questioning from prosecutor Eren Price, Escalona acknowledged her children occasionally misbehaved and she sometimes “needed a little break.”
When Price asked, “Are you taking responsibility for torturing your daughter?” Escalona responded, “No, I didn’t torture her.”
Escalona cried repeatedly when forced to look at bruises on her child; but Price pressed ahead, asking questions that painted Escalona as a woman who repeatedly made bad choice after bad choice. “Do you want me to stop Ms. Escalona?” the attorney asked. “Jocelyn probably did too.”
During cross examination, Escalona admitted she smoked marijuana about twice a day before the September 2011 attack on Jocelyn Cedillo. She also admitted to using drugs and alcohol while out on bond after her arrest.
Escalona’s other children told authorities their mother attacked Jocelyn because of potty training problems.
Police say Escalona kicked her daughter, Jocelyn Cedillo, in the stomach, beat her with a milk jug, then stuck her hands to an apartment wall using an adhesive commonly known as Super Glue. Escalona’s other children told authorities their mother attacked Jocelyn because of potty training problems.
Jocelyn suffered bleeding in her brain, a fractured rib, multiple 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 glue residue and white paint chips from the apartment wall, witnesses testified.
Escalona also testified Thursday that she often doesn’t tell the truth and that she lied to doctors and other experts assigned to her case.
But she resisted the Price’s efforts to label her a liar on a screen above Escalona’s head. “I’m not a liar,” Escalona said.
Price replaced the word with another one – Monster. “A monster bit this baby on the arm,” Price told the court, “And a monster bit this baby on the butt.”
Mumbling quietly, Escalona provided short answers through most of the questioning, only occasionally pushing back. “I should be put away… but I also think I should be given a second chance. Why? Because I’m not a monster.”
A day earlier, Escalona pleaded for leniency, saying she would never forgive herself what she did to her daughter and that she loved her children.
A state district judge will decide Escalona’s punishment. Closing arguments begin Friday morning at 10.
Prosecutors have portrayed Escalona as an unfit mother with a history of violence. They have played recordings in which a teenage Escalona threatened to kill her own mother. They said she was a former gang member who started smoking marijuana at age 11.
Escalona’s five children — including one born since her arrest — are in the care of her mother, Ofelia Escalona.
(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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