HOUSTON -- A Dallas judge sentenced a young mother to 99 years in prison Friday after she admitted to gluing her toddler's hands to a wall and beating the girl so severely that she ended up in a coma, officials said.
"We're very happy with the judge's decision," Debbie Denmon, spokeswoman for the Dallas County district attorney's office, said in an interview.
Judge Larry Mitchell told the mother, Elizabeth Escalona, that his decision came down to the fact that "you savagely beat your child to the edge of death," according to the Dallas Morning News, which live-tweeted coverage of the sentencing.
Ms. Escalona, 23, pleaded guilty July 12 to injury to a child. Prosecutor Eren Price had sought a 45-year sentence, while Ms. Escalona had hoped for probation. The judge, however, nearly doubled the prosecution's recommendation, citing the brutality of the attacks.
"The prosecutor said Escalona wasn't sorry for what she did. She was sorry for herself, not the child she tortured," Ms. Denmon said. "Her children now have a chance to lead a productive life."
Ms. Escalona will have to serve 30 years before she becomes eligible for parole, Ms. Denmon said.
Ms. Escalona's attorney did not return calls Friday morning. She told those at the court that she plans to appeal the sentence, Ms. Denmon said.
During the sentencing hearing, which started Monday, Ms. Escalona took the stand in her own defense, admitted that she abused her 2-year-old daughter, Jocelyn Cedillo, and pleaded for leniency.
"I hit her, I kicked her constantly, and she didn't deserve that," Ms. Escalona said, confirming that she used a Super Glue-like substance to glue the girl's hands to the wall, according to the Dallas Morning News. But she added: "I want everybody to know that I'm not a monster. I love my kids."
Ms. Escalona, a mother of five, said she was molested, abused by boyfriends and was a recovering cocaine addict. She was raising her children on child-support payments in a one-bedroom apartment with bed bugs, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The prosecutor painted Ms. Escalona as cruel and calculating, posting the word "Liar" on a screen behind Ms. Escalona's head during cross-examination, forcing Ms. Escalona to look at photos of her injured daughter and count the bruises she inflicted.
Ms. Escalona has admitted to becoming so frustrated with Jocelyn's "potty training issue" on Sept. 7, 2011, that she glued the toddler to the wall of their apartment and beat her, according to testimony at sentencing hearings that began Monday.
Ms. Escalona called her mother, crying and hysterical, according to police records. The older woman found Jocelyn unresponsive on the floor beside a bed in her daughter's northwest Dallas apartment and rushed Jocelyn to a hospital. The girl survived and is now living with Ms. Escalona's mother, Ofelia Escalona, who testified on her daughter's behalf.
Prosecutors countered that Elizabeth Escalona was a dangerous juvenile delinquent who had indeed grown into a monster. They played recordings in court of her as a teenager threatening to kill her mother, noting that she is a former gang member who started smoking marijuana at age 11.
Evidence photos displayed in court showed Jocelyn with numerous bruises, cuts and bite marks shortly after she was brought to Children's Medical Center Dallas, where she remained in a coma for two days, Ms. Denmon said. The toddler appears to have recovered from her injuries, although Ms. Denmon said it's too early to tell if she has lasting brain damage.
After Ms. Escalona's arrest, Jocelyn and her three siblings were placed in foster care, then with Ofelia Escalona. A fifth child, a boy born while Elizabeth Escalona was in jail, was also placed with her mother, Ms. Denmon said.
Both Ms. Escalona and her mother have been investigated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Ms. Denmon said, but the inquiries produced no criminal charges.