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October 12, 2012

Texas judge gives 99 years to abusive "Super Glue" mom

In this prior post, I spotlighted the notable sentencing proceeding in Texas for the abusive mom who glued her toddler to a wall as part of a brutal episode. This new AP article, headlined "Mom gets 99 years in prison for gluing tot's hands," reports on the sentencing outcome:

A Dallas woman who beat her 2-year-old daughter and glued the toddler's hands to a wall because she was struggling with potty training was sentenced Friday to 99 years in prison.

Family members in the courtroom sobbed loudly as the judge announced Elizabeth Escalona's punishment.  Escalona pleaded guilty in July to felony injury to a child, but her mother and sister had asked the court for leniency on her behalf.

Dallas County prosecutor Eren Price said the 23-year-old mother of five had not taken responsibility for her actions.  "Elizabeth lies to hide the evil," Price said.

Escalona's other children told authorities that their mother attacked Jocelyn Cedillo in September 2011 due to potty training problems.  Police say she 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.

Jocelyn suffered bleeding in her brain, a fractured rib, multiple bruises and bite marks, and was in a coma for a couple of days, a doctor testified at the sentencing hearing. Some skin had been torn off her hands, where doctors also found glue residue and white paint chips from the apartment wall.

"On Sept. 7, 2011, you savagely beat your child to the edge of death," State District Judge Larry Mitchell said. "For this you must be punished." Jocelyn has since recovered and her grandmother now cares for her along with Elizabeth Escalona's four other children, including a baby born this year.

Prosecutors portrayed Escalona as an unfit mother with a history of violence. They played recordings in which Escalona as a teenager threatened to kill her mother. They said she had been a gang member and that she started smoking marijuana at age 11. "Only a monster glues her daughter's hands to the wall," Price said during the hearing.

Escalona asked for leniency, telling the judge she was no longer the monster who committed the attack. "I will never forgive myself for what I did to my own daughter," she said.

Escalona had faced from probation to life in prison. Prosecutors initially sought a 45-year sentence, but during closing arguments Price said she wanted Escalona to be sentenced to life in prison. Defense attorney Angie N'Duka repeated that Escalona was not a monster and that she was deserving of probation or a short sentence....

Price said Escalona will be eligible for parole in 30 years. N'Duka said she plans to appeal. Escalona's family has acknowledged their dismay and anger following the attack, but her sister and her mother nonetheless asked the judge for leniency.

October 12, 2012 at 01:33 PM | Permalink


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Perhaps a practitioner will be able to tell me just what sort of astounding mental gymnastics you have to do to be able to stand up in court, without a bag over your head, and say that a parent who beats her kid into a coma and then tortures her to boot is "deserving of probation or a short sentence...."

Do people actually take money for saying stuff like that?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 12, 2012 5:10:06 PM

I agree, Bill. Not knowing more about the case, 30 years would be the minimum I could imagine.

Former prosecutor, defense attorney, and now, stay at home Dad.

Posted by: Robert Barnhart | Oct 12, 2012 5:32:22 PM

Robert Barnhart --

Congratulations on your new profession. Sounds more rewarding than the last two.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 12, 2012 5:48:48 PM

She might be a horrible person, but how is child abuse something that can possibly get a person 99 years? I could understand if the charge was attempted murder. In California, there are low, medium and high fixed sentences for each crime, like 3 6 or 8 years, and the judge picks one of the three based on mitigation or aggravation. Crimes tend to go up incrementally with more serious crimes getting steadily harsher punishments, until you reach the highest punishments, which are 15/life or 25/life. Attempted murder, like murder, is 25 to life.

Texas apparently makes all first degree felonies 5 to 99 years. So maybe I'm just shocked at the huge range and vast discretion given to judges at sentencing there. The sentencing hearing (with no jury) would be far more important than the jury trial itself.

In California, she would have been charged with attempted murder and still would have faced life. However, she would have been able to argue, to a jury, that she lacked the intent to kill. A jury might have convicted her anyway, or might have acquitted on attempted murder and convicted on a lesser charge, based on the evidence.

I actually feel a lot better about having a jury make those kinds of decisions than leaving it purely to a judge. It just feels somehow like the 6th amendment right to jury trial is undermined in some significant way by doing things the Texas way. It seems like what judge you get, based on random chance, will play far too big a role in the outcome.

A different judge might have given this woman 5 years, and I'm guessing stayed that sentence, granting probation? If you like the 99 year sentence, then you have to accept that a different judge might have let this woman off with almost nothing. That is why states like California and the Federal government take measures to try to restrict the ranges that judges can sentence in, so you don't get one person with 5 years and one with 99 years for similar conduct.

Posted by: lawguy | Oct 12, 2012 10:05:09 PM

Her lawyer should have asked for 49 years. Then there would only be a 50 year difference between what he asked for and what she got.

On a more serious note, I find it interesting that all the headlines about this case mention the superglue, and none mention that she kicked this kid, broke her ribs, and gave her possible brain damage, putting her in a coma for days. "Mom gets 99 years in prison for gluing tot's hands" sounds like a News of the Weird item, while "Mom gets 99 years for beating her toddler nearly to death" sounds like just news. But then I guess I answered my own question--everyone will click on the glue headline, while most would probably ignore the other one.

Posted by: C.E. | Oct 12, 2012 11:00:06 PM

Would I have given her 99 years with parole eligibility in 30? I don't know, but based on what I've read, this isn't anywhere close to an injustice.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 13, 2012 8:37:09 AM

Bill , you probably are no longer amazed at what some defense/prosecution counsel and some judges will be paid for uttering the most bizarre statements ☺ I at times utter bizarre statements pro bono

Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr., (19 November 1904 – 29 August 1971) was on the street in about 40 years and thereafter led a productive life .

I believe 99 years for this ♀ is a tad harsh , though IMLO she deserves far more than probation or a short sentence of 1 , 10 , 100 or 1000 days (♥ powers of 10) .

The uptick of several years imprisonment in addition to being away from four or more young defenseless children ; is that her eggs „ if all goes well „ will be isolated from contact with spermatozoa .

If she has not learned anger management and tolerance after FOUR births , she should consider foregoing birthing for a while — 20 years will put her at age 43 , 30 at 53 .

As usual , Nemo Me Impune Lacessit

Love , Ambivalent and Hate mail to docile_jim_brady@Safe-mail.net

Posted by: Anon. #3.14159 | Oct 13, 2012 10:11:24 AM

I second lawguy -- child abuse is horrible and is worthy of a sizable sentence, but given murder often doesn't result in 99 years etc., the sentence seems rather long.

One person says thirty years is the least he could "imagine." Since rape or murder repeatedly doesn't give you that, that confuses me. I congratulate the person on his new role but a mother has told me that she understands what happens when a stressed out mother snaps and seriously hurts their child. She was at times this close at times.

The state offered 45 years. A mother of five is "evil" for snapping and abusing her children since she can't handle taking care of them. There is something a bit skewered at that. Child abuse is horrible, but it is not the result of evil spirits and it does not do children much good to sentence a few moms to 99 years in jail. BTW, a "short sentence" according to the article is "shorter than 10 years." This is the defense offer, which in bargaining terms means it will be somewhere in between.

Since killing someone might not get you 10 years, I'm not sure how outrageous that is an offer.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 13, 2012 2:16:41 PM

I think you're forgetting that she comes up for parole after serving a third or less of any of the sentences suggested by the prosecution or the defense.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Oct 13, 2012 2:54:23 PM

I was not aware that it was 1/3 of the sentence, so thanks for that, and "coming up" doesn't mean she actually would get it. I don't think 33 years is suitable for this situation. I doubt it would for most cases of attempted murder or even many actual killings & I don't think this was an attempted murder.

I would also have to know what the 'going rate' is for child abuse in Texas. The article suggests only a tiny portion of people received her sentence and I'm sure there are numerous horrible cases among the remainder. Since many people get out of prison in but a few years for killing someone, though 1/3 of the sentence might lead me to alter my calculus, I don't know just how bad a 9 year offer, which again would be the "low" offer vs. a "high" prosecution offer, is.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 13, 2012 4:08:30 PM

Even with parole eligibility in 30 years, for a first-time mom with a drug problem, this seems out proportion with the severity of the offense.

Posted by: Guy | Oct 14, 2012 12:56:14 AM

But she is a monster, from age 11. She should not have been allowed to reach 18, with the death penalty preventing likely hundreds of violent crimes to others than her daughter. The lawyers that prevented her execution before 18 are also pro-criminal monsters. They should be liable to all her subsequent victims, their being as foreseeable as planetary orbits.

Statutes should return status crime. If you have the status of a monster, that should be death eligible after age 14, and before age 18, before entering the busiest period of criminality.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 14, 2012 6:29:45 AM

"I congratulate the person on his new role but a mother has told me that she understands what happens when a stressed out mother snaps and seriously hurts their child. She was at times this close at times."

Wow. Well, I wonder how we survived as a species if all mothers were "this close." Joe, I always knew you weren't so bright (you remind me of pseudo-intellectual twits I knew in college), but this quote shows that I have overestimated you. One mother told you that she understands? And that's what informs your opinion?

The fact is that this woman beat her daughter half to death and then decided to cruelly glue her to the wall. And you're "confused" about a sentence that makes her parole eligible in 30 years? Let me cure the confusion---some people in the criminal justice system get lenient sentences--that doesn't mean that harsh sentences for other people are confusing, it just means that in a system where there are many different actors, you are going to have disparities. How this escaped you baffles me. Well, actually it doesn't. You're not bright enough to employ rhetorical flourishes, so when you do, you make a fool out of yourself.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 14, 2012 10:47:09 AM

federalist --

Note that this thug in a skirt is merely a "mom" (Guy's version) who has a "drug problem" (Guy's version again -- I suppose someone's been forcing her to take drugs rather than her gobbling them down to stay blasted). Joe adds that Ms. Nicey merely "snapped" (implying that she had no control) (and I mean, gosh, we can all "snap" at times), and tells us that "she can't handle taking care of them," although there are those, namely, the consensus of the human race, who think it the defining duty of parenthood to "take care of them."

We see the ususal fig-leaf, mumbled, and transparently insincere disclaimers about how bad child abuse is (no details, please), but at least they're candid enough to make their actual views reasonable clear, to wit, that the real victim here in the poor, overwhelmed druggie mother (and aren't drugs supposed to be victimless crimes, BTW?), while the kid who got beaten up and tortured is, ya know, an inconveniet, and therefore largely ignored, truth.

So naturally the sentence is too long. On the other hand, how many times have Guy and Joe said a sentence -- any sentence -- is anything OTHER THAN too long?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 14, 2012 1:41:18 PM

"Mistrust all in whom the will to pushish is powerful," Nietzsche with emphasis added.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 14, 2012 3:18:14 PM

"Mistrust all in whom the will to punish is powerful," Nietzsche with emphasis added.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 14, 2012 3:24:17 PM

Don't forget Bill, Joe was cool with the teacher getting prosecuted for sex with her 18 year old students. Throw the book at the teacher, but god forbid hammering a woman who puts a two year old in a coma.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 14, 2012 4:50:23 PM

Anon --

Mistrust all in whom the will to rationalize atrocity is powerful.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 14, 2012 5:14:45 PM

Federalist, once again your ad hominem attacks cheapen this listserve and detract from what could be powerful arguments that you make. I say "could" because when I read your attacks, I turn away from your arguments. Calling Joe not so bright and a "pseudo-intellectual twit" may give you some personal satisfaction but makes me think much worse of you than of him. My advice to you: "Be kind to everyone, for everyone carries a heavy burden."

Posted by: anon1 | Oct 14, 2012 6:14:20 PM

Bill Otis, you and Federalist frequently agree on the merits of an issue, but you don't launch ad hominem attacks on your adversaries the way he does. Why don't you speak up and give him some advice. His arguments would carry much more weight if he he dropped the personal attack. Maybe he'll listen to you.

Posted by: anon1 | Oct 14, 2012 6:17:03 PM

Anon1, I agree with you absolutely. Many more of us would contribute to this listserve if we were not subject to the vitriol and personal abuse that sometimes emerge from those who disagree on the merits of what we write.

Posted by: onlooker2 | Oct 14, 2012 6:21:12 PM

I deal in the trenches of child abuse every day. Got to any courtroom in Los Angeles, New York City, Detroit, etc. sit in the family court, and you will see and hear horror stories that will revolt you. The vast majority of the perpetrators are children themselves (mentally) who have no stress tolerance who are immature, who live day to day and whose lives are "nasty, brutish, and short." Give everyone of these folks a 99 year sentence? I don't think so. Twenty years would be more than ample with lifetime of parole supervision.

Posted by: anon22 | Oct 14, 2012 6:29:54 PM

Guys, Joe and I have a history. And look at his comment--just begging to be swatted. Some mother told him that she could snap and put her kid in a coma? That informs his comment? That nonsense coupled with his condescending tone (demonstrated by many of his comments in here) begs for the rhetorical right hand. And his annoying protestation of being "confused" merits the rough treatment. Anyone with half a brain knows that given the fact that all state criminal punishment is local and relatively disconnected. Thus, you're going to have situations where rape is treated less harshly than "child abuse."

I doubt I am going to change my persona. Personally, I don't really mind when someone calls me names in here. I just laugh. If I say something dumb, then I deserve it anyway.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 14, 2012 6:37:45 PM

Transactional lawyers, rather than a litigators, can afford to make personal remarks. Litigators cannot afford to make personal statements, in case such a habit spills over into a trial. Once that happens, the case is over. The judge will slap down such statements, and the bored, confused jury will take that as a signal from the judge. Indeed, it is a favorite tactic to frustrate the other side to a point where they slip up this way. Such rejoinders from a judge drive out all adverse evidence from the memory of the jury.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 14, 2012 8:37:44 PM

Anon1 --

I appreciate the compliment, but have far too many shortcomings of my own to view myself as in a position to announce standards for my friends.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 15, 2012 3:53:19 AM

Docile Jim Brady --

Here's hoping you get your piece of the pi.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 15, 2012 3:55:11 AM

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