It was an emotional hearing in a Vista courtroom Thursday as a foster mother was sentenced in the death of a four-year-old girl.
Dania Haros, 26, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of four-year-old Angelina Espalin who died from blunt force trauma on November 19, 2006.
Haros cried as her mother pleaded with the judge to be compassionate.
“For those of you who don't know her, she's always been a good daughter,” said the defendant's mother, Maria Cortez, speaking through an interpreter.
She told the judge her daughter never caused any trouble and had a lot of friends.
Haros was the foster mother for the victim and her younger sister for six months before Angelina was taken to a hospital, unconscious and found to have a swollen brain.
Evidence presented by the medical examiner showed Angelina had dozens of bruises on her body and more than 30 wounds on her head.
"What she really died from is not the bleeding into the scalp but the damage of the brain when it hit the skull that led to her death," Deputy Medical Examiner Christopher Swalwell testified in 2008.
The night before, she was said to have been at a birthday party and a photo was taken of her with clear bruises on her face. But expert witnesses say the severe beating did not take place until later.
Haros told detectives she was angry with Angelina because she refused to go to bed and also that Angelina had fallen off the bed.
The investigation revealed several months of prior abuse in the foster home as well as the foster parents refusing to return phone calls by child protective services or allow workers to come to the house.
On Thursday, Angelina's 25-year-old mother tearfully told the judge of the pain this has caused her, saying her daughter will never come back.
"My daughter was an innocent little baby that never deserved any of the pain, any of the abuse that Dania gave her," Patricia Espalin, said. "The way she killed my daughter is unimaginable.”
Haros was sentenced to 16 years in prison.