By Nomaan Merchant
DALLAS — A Dallas woman who super-glued her 2-year-old daughter’s hands to a wall also beat the girl so badly that she suffered bleeding on her brain, a doctor testified Monday during the mother’s sentencing hearing.
Elizabeth Escalona faces up to life in prison after pleading guilty in July to attacking her daughter, Jocelyn Cedillo, last September. Police say the 23-year-old mother attacked the toddler due to potty training problems.
During a sentencing hearing that began Monday, prosecutors presented gruesome photos and details of the attack.
Jocelyn was hospitalized for about one week with injuries that included bleeding on her brain, a fractured rib, severe bruises and others likely caused by direct blows, according to Dr. Amy Barton, a former child abuse specialist at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.
“When I think about the time involved in that and what that scene must have looked like, it’s overwhelming,” Barton said.
Dallas Police Sr. Cpl. Abel Lopez, who interviewed Escalona after the attack, showed a bottle of super glue taken out of the family’s apartment as well as a section of an apartment wall with Jocelyn’s handprints.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled to continue Tuesday. Escalona’s attorney, Angie N’Duka, said she hadn’t decided if her client would take the stand. A state district judge will decide her punishment.
In a videotaped interview with Lopez after the attack, Escalona insisted over and over: “I’m taking the blame.” Lopez said Monday that Escalona wouldn’t immediately explain why she was taking the blame, even as doctors fighting to save her daughter’s life needed information about what had happened.
“She never really asked” about Jocelyn’s condition, Lopez said. “I had to tell her.”
Escalona’s mother, Ofelia Escalona, testified about her panic and confusion when she arrived at the family home after the attack and found Jocelyn lying on the floor, taking shallow breaths. Under questioning from prosecutor Eren Price, Ofelia Escalona acknowledged that her daughter had also hit her several times when Elizabeth Escalona was growing up.
The grandmother said she came over after her daughter called her. She said she could see something wrong in her daughter’s face.
“I had my daughter in front of me, but she was not all there,” Ofelia Escalona said, her voice often breaking throughout her testimony.
She picked Jocelyn up off the floor and noticed the child had soiled her underwear, the grandmother said. She changed Jocelyn, ran with the girl to her car, and told her son to drive them to the hospital.
But Jocelyn then started talking — asking for food — leading her grandmother to believe the girl didn’t need to go to the emergency room. She told her son to turn around.
“I made a horrible mistake,” Ofelia Escalona said.
Testimony then concluded for the day because Ofelia Escalona had to pick up another one of her grandchildren from school. The grandmother is now taking care of her daughter’s five children, including a baby born this year.
As testimony ended, Elizabeth Escalona used tissues to wipe her eyes before sheriff’s deputies escorted her from the courtroom.