RIVERSIDE (CBS) — A Riverside babysitter whose severe mistreatment of an 11-month-old boy caused him to lose his sight and brain damage was convicted Thursday of child abuse and inflicting great bodily injury on a minor.
Ana Soto Cuatlayotl, 24, could face 12 years in prison when sentenced by Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard on July 15.
Jurors deliberated several holurs before returning with a verdict. The defendant, who had been free on bond, was immediately taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies.
“This was probably the most aggravating act of child abuse one could ever see,” Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beechum told reporters.
“This is a child who can no longer see, walk, eat or really move. He just lays in bed, in darkness, all day long, because of the damage he sustained as a result of the defendant’s actions.”
According to Beechum, Cuatlayotl was babysitting the toddler and two older children on Aug. 24, 2007, when she got angry with the youngest child, identified in court documents only as “Doe.”
The defendant, who was five months pregnant at the time, was supervising the children for her sister and members of her sister’s husband’s family, with whom Cuatlayotl resided in the same house, Beechum said.
The prosecutor alleged that the woman became irate with the baby and shook him violently, causing his head to snap back and hit a bedpost.
According to court papers, Cuatlayotl later admitted to Riverside police investigators that she also dropped the child on his head while carrying him to another room.
The defendant realized the tot was hurt when his head began swelling and his breathing became labored, prompting her to call his mother, who rushed home from Orange County and took her son to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, according to court documents.
During an examination, doctors discovered bruising on the toddler’s shoulders, including a “uniquely patterned bruise” that Cuatlayotl admitted inflicting by striking the boy with a fly swatter, Beechum said.
“She … said that she did not love Doe, but she did love the other children,” the prosecutor wrote in a trial brief. “In (an) apology letter, she wished forgiveness from Doe’s mother and stated that God should inflict the same injuries to her … child as punishment.”
The victim is now 5 and under 24-hour care, hooked to a respirator and fed through a tube. Beechum said his mother has since had another child, a boy.
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