Mom who glued toddler's hands: 'I'm not a monster'

Elizabeth Escalona, 23, enters a courtroom Monday for sentencing in Dallas. Escalona pleaded guilty on July 12 to injury to a child and is facing up to life in prison. A doctor testified the Texas mother glued her 2-year-old daughter’s hands to a wall and beat the toddler so badly she suffered significant brain trauma and bleeding inside her skull.

Elizabeth Escalona, 23, enters a courtroom Monday for sentencing in Dallas. Escalona pleaded guilty on July 12 to injury to a child and is facing up to life in prison. A doctor testified the Texas mother glued her 2-year-old daughter’s hands to a wall and beat the toddler so badly she suffered significant brain trauma and bleeding inside her skull. Photo by The Associated Press.

DALLAS (AP) — A mother who admitted to beating her 2-year-old daughter and gluing the child’s hands made a plea for leniency Wednesday, saying 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.

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.

Judge Larry Mitchell has a wide range in choosing Escalona’s sentence: Anything from probation to life in prison is possible. Prosecutors are asking for a 45-year sentence.

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 believe I’m not the monster everybody thinks I am,” Escalona said.

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.

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 that Elizabeth needed more help and not prison.

“Her being taken away won’t help any,” Margaret Escalona said.

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