Horrific Minnesota Child Abuse Case Leads to 40 Year Sentence
Maplewood, MN (KROC-AM News) - A Twin Cities man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison in a horrific child abuse case.
The prison term handed to 26-year-old Terrence Valdez Leslie is the maximum sentence for a second-degree murder conviction in Minnesota. The Maplewood man earlier entered a guilty plea to the charge for causing the death of his girlfriend's one-year-old daughter last fall.
The criminal complaint says Maplewood Police Officers were called to an apartment the night of October 18 on a report that her young child had been seriously injured. The officers noted the infant had fresh burns on her right cheek, on each side of her neck, on her right forearm, and on her right forearm and shoulder.
The baby was described as extremely lethargic and unresponsive. She was transported to a nearby hospital and later died. The emergency room doctor told investigators that many of the bruises found on the infant's body were old and were an indication of physical abuse. The court document says the doctor also found fresh bruises on the child's face and blood behind her eardrum, which indicated a brain injury. An autopsy later ruled her death was a homicide caused by multiple internal and external traumatic injuries due to assault and also noted there were injuries and evidence of sexual assault.
The charges against Leslie say he told the child's mother and police investigators that he had started hot water for a bath and left the 1-year-old girl standing by the bathtub when he left the room to deal with his dog. He stated that he heard a thud and splash and found the baby in the tub with scalding hot water. The court document says the officers called to the scene checked the bathtub and measured the temperature of the hot water coming from the faucet and noted that it did not appear to be hot enough to cause the injuries suffered by the little girl.
Her mother told investigators she and Leslie had been living together for several weeks. The criminal complaint says she initially denied that Leslie abused her, but later indicated that he physically abused her by punching and kicking her and that the abuse had occurred while she was holding her daughter and some of the blows struck the child.
Maplewood Police then obtained a search warrant for Leslie's phone, and the court record says they found several videos and images that appear to document the horrific abuse suffered by the infant prior to the assault that resulted in her death.
One of the videos, which was recorded in the late morning on the day she died, shows Leslie turning the baby's head side to side, apparently to record bruising, swelling, and redness on both of the child's cheeks. The recording continued after Leslie sets his phone down and it captured the sounds of the baby "quietly whimpering" before he is heard shouting and screaming at her. The recording also includes the sound of a loud slap that is later followed by a loud thud sound and the little girl whimpering. The complaint also includes equally disturbing descriptions of several other videos found stored in the phone.