A young mother of five said she will never forgive herself for beating her 2-year-old daughter because she was struggling with potty training in an angry attack that climaxed with her gluing the toddler's hands to the wall.
Elizabeth Escalona, 23, pleaded guilty in July to felony injury to a child and faces a sentence ranging from probation to life in prison. Prosecutors have requested a 45-year term. Escalona's sentencing hearing was scheduled to continue Thursday.
Police say Escalona kicked her daughter, Jocelyn Cedillo, in the stomach, beat her with a milk jug, then stuck her hands to an apartment wall using an adhesive commonly known as Super Glue.
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.
The child was hospitalized for days.
Defense attorney Angie N'Duka asked Escalona on Wednesday what she thought of the photos that prosecutors presented to the hearing that showed her daughter's injuries. She said she had been a "monster" when she attacked the child -- for reasons she couldn't quite recall -- but that she is no longer.
In pleading for leniency, Escalona asked for an opportunity to show she has changed, adding that she would accept any sentence as fair.
"I love my kids," Escalona said.
"I will never forgive myself for what I did to my own daughter," she said.
Escalona's other children told authorities that their mother attacked Jocelyn because of problems in potty training.
Prosecutors have portrayed Escalona as an unfit mother with a history of violence. They have played recordings in which a teenage Escalona threatened to kill her own mother. They said she was a former gang member who started smoking marijuana at age 11.
Escalona's relatives have acknowledged their dismay and anger following the attack, but both her mother and sister asked the judge for leniency, saying she needed more help, not prison.
"Her being taken away won't help any," her sister, Margaret Escalona, said.
Counselor Melanie Davis echoed these words, saying she has been conducting sessions with Elizabeth Escalona since June -- nine months after her arrest -- and that she is convinced the young woman loves her children
Escalona "is need of further counseling services," Davis said.
Escalona's five children -- including one born since her arrest -- are in the care of her mother, Ofelia Escalona.