Prison sentence for boyfriend of caregiver in child abuse casePosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- A Valley man accused of severely beating a 4-month-old baby girl last year pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to two years and three months in prison on Wednesday.
Steven Saldana was 30-years-old when he was arrested by Chandler police in Aug. 2011. His birthday is this month.
Saldana's arrest followed the arrest of his girlfriend, Angelica Jimenez. She was 25-years-old at the time of her arrest and also has a birthday this month.
As part of a plea deal, Jimenez was sentenced to probation for her role in the case.
Police said the plea deals came about because detectives were only able to substantiate that either Jimenez or Saldana caused the baby's injuries, but they could not prove who was directly responsible -- making the case very difficult to prosecute.
Chandler police detectives arrested the couple on child abuse charges after doctors discovered the baby had 11 broken bones, a cigarette burn to her left arm, multiple bruises and abrasions.
Police said the baby had been placed in Jimenez's care by Child Protective Services.
The baby's birth mother asked CPS to place the baby with Angelica because the mother knew Angelica. It's not clear why the birth mother had to turn the baby over to CPS.
When CPS initially placed the baby in Jimenez's care, she said her boyfriend did not live with her.
Several key facts were revealed publicly during the sentencing hearing on Wednesday when the primary investigator on the case read a statement in court.
Det. Coons told the judge, "During the investigation several interviews were conducted with the foster mother, Angelica, and she made a concerted effort to deceive the police and CPS in regards the the truth about the injuries to [the baby.]"
Det. Coons explained that Saldana spent a lot of time around Jimenez and the baby because the couple had child together.
Jimenez did admit that she did know that Saldana had burned the baby with cigarette, but continued to allow him to be around her and the children, according to Det. Coons.
"She found Steven kneeling over [the baby]. Steven reported that [the baby] was not breathing," explained Saldana," explained Det. Coons. "There was never any heroic efforts taken as a result to save [the baby] and here was no medical proof that [the baby] had ever stopped breathing. Steve, in fact, fled the apartment leaving Angelica alone to take [the baby] to the hospital."
Det. Coons also explained that Jimenez said that Saldana had asked her to take responsibility for the baby's injuries because he already had felony convictions and did not want to go back to prison.
"These injuries were not without significant pain, but yet no medical attention as ever sought and [the baby] was left to suffer." said Det. Coons. "It is no wonder that Steven became upset with the fussy baby that suffered from multiple broken bones. Clearly, Angelica and Steven knew they had done wrong to [the baby], but in the matter of saving their own necks they chose to let her suffer."
Det. Coons closed his remarks by saying, "I only ask on behalf of [the baby] that the courts administer justice for her as she truly has no voice to defend herself with."
Saldana and his attorney also addressed the judge at the sentencing hearing.
"I would like to apologize. This whole situation has caused a lot of hurt to a lot of people," said Saldana."
Saldana's attorney, Robyn Varcoe, told the judge that Saldana was prepared to go to trial when he accepted the plea deal.
"The reason why he was fighting so hard was...because he did not cause those injuries, and because it's so important to him that he not just give up on his children because he does want to be reunited with them and has been fighting very hard for that to occur."
The baby is still in CPS custody.
As for whether Angelica will be allowed to see her own children, that is still pending, according to Chandler police. There is a family court hearing scheduled for August.