Thursday, March 25, 2010

Custodial dad sentenced to 21 years in prison for death of 14-month-old daughter (Sanford, Florida)

Custodial dad FIDEL JUAREZ-AVILA SR. has pleaded no contest to aggravated manslaughter in the death of his 14-month-old daughter. He has been sentenced to 21 years in prison.,0,885380.story

Sanford man sentenced to 21 years in death of his toddler

By Rene Stutzman, Orlando Sentinel

9:45 a.m. EDT, March 25, 2010

SANFORD – A 29-year-old Sanford man on Thursday pleaded no contest to killing his 14-month-old daughter and was sentenced to 21 years in prison.

Fidel Juarez-Avila Sr., 29, had been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse. Instead, he pleaded no contest to a reduced charge: aggravated manslaughter of a child.

The toddler, Aurelia Juarez, died June 25, 2008.

A medical examiner concluded that someone punched the child in the abdomen so hard, it broke her liver in two. Bruises that roughly matched Juarez-Avila's fist were found on the child's mid-section.

The child also had bruises around her mouth – a possble sign that someone had smothered her – and a bruise to her forehead and brain damage, said Assistant State Attorney Gino Feliciani.

Any of those three injuries – the blow to the belly, suffocation or the head injury – could have been what killed her – Feliciani said.

The day she was injured, Juarez-Avila took his daughter to Sanford's hospital, where she was pronounced dead. He told Sanford police that he had left his daughter alone in bed, and she fell off.

At the time, he was a single father, raising three young children – the toddler and boys age 4 and 8. The girl's mother was in state prison.

Juarez-Avila also was unemployed, Feliciani said.

Juarez-Avila is an undocumented worker from Mexico. He's likely to be deported once he finishes serving his prison term, said defense attorney Tim Caudill.