DALLAS — A mother who admitted to beating her 2-year-old daughter and gluing the child's hands to a wall was sentenced to 99 years in prison Friday, despite pleas for leniency because she was no longer the "monster" who committed the attack.
"I will never forgive myself for what I did to my own daughter," said Elizabeth Escalona, who pleaded guilty in July to felony injury to a child.
She had faced probation to life in prison. Prosecutors sought 45 years behind bars. A state district judge decided her sentence Friday.
Police say Escalona lost her temper last year with Jocelyn Cedillo over potty training problems. Escalona beat and kicked Jocelyn before sticking her hands to an apartment wall using an adhesive commonly known as Super Glue. The child was hospitalized for days.
During the sentencing hearing earlier this week, defense attorney Angie N'Duka asked Escalona what she thought of photos that prosecutors presented earlier this week showing her daughter's injuries.
"Only a monster does that," Escalona responded.
N'Duka then asked Escalona whether she thought she was a monster. "When that happened, I was," Escalona replied.
Escalona asked Mitchell for an opportunity to show she had changed, adding that she would accept any sentence as fair.
"I want everybody to know I'm not a monster," Escalona said. "I love my kids."
Escalona admitted to hitting and kicking her daughter but said she didn't recall why she did it.
Prosecutors have portrayed Escalona as an unfit mother with a history of violence. They have played recordings in which Escalona as a teenager threatened to kill her mother. They said she was a former gang member who started smoking marijuana at age 11.
Her sentencing hearing is scheduled to resume Thursday.
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.
Video of Jocelyn's hand, injuries
Reaction as sentence is read
Escalona's family has acknowledged their dismay and anger following the attack, but both her mother and sister asked the judge for leniency.
"I wanted an explanation," said Margaret Escalona, her sister. "I wanted to know what happened. I wanted to beat my sister up."
Ofelia Escalona, Elizabeth's mother, said her daughter hit her as a child, but she also said Elizabeth was abused growing up. Both Ofelia and Margaret Escalona argued Elizabeth needed more help and not prison.
"Her being taken away won't help any," Margaret Escalona said.
Counselor Melanie Davis testified Wednesday she believes from the conversations she has had with Elizabeth Escalona the mother loves her five children, one of whom was born after the attack. Davis said she has been counseling Escalona since June, nine months after her arrest.
She added Escalona "is need of further counseling services."
Ofelia Escalona now takes care of Elizabeth Escalona's five children, including one child born earlier this year.