Erika Mendieta singled out her 2-year-old daughter for prolonged beatings — leaving little of her body unmarked — and must be denounced with a 10-year sentence, a prosecutor says.
In post-mortem photos, tiny Emmily Lucas “looks like she has been in a bar fight,” Allison MacPherson told a judge Friday.
“This is a case of extreme moral culpability,” MacPherson said. “It took time and energy to do this to Emmily.”
Mendieta, 34, looked on calmly in her prison-issue green sweats, her dishevelled hair contrasting to her previously neat appearance at trial.
On Jan. 17, Ontario Superior Court Justice Nola Garton found her not guilty of second-degree murder but guilty of manslaughter in Emmily’s death seven years ago.
It was another step in a case marked by controversy. Her first trial ended with a hung jury in 2009 after her ex-boyfriend, Johnny Bermudez, stunned the court by testifying he was the real killer.
Her second trial ended in another mistrial last November after the jury and Mendieta complained a former prosecutor in the case was distracting them by making faces as he sat among the spectators.
On Friday, MacPherson pointed out that on Nov. 13, 2003, Mendieta beat Emmily unconscious, severely injuring her head and spine, but didn’t call 911 until she’d gone to school to pick up her other kids.
And she never told paramedics and doctors the truth about how Emmily was hurt — claiming the girl had fallen down some stairs —thus hampering their efforts to save her, MacPherson said.
“She beat her, she abandoned her and then she lied to the very people struggling to save her life,” MacPherson said.
Defence lawyer Bob Richardson called it a tragic case, but said Mendieta is herself the product of abusive homes, first in Honduras, then in Canada.
Her first spouse and Emmily’s father, Derrick Parra, physically abused Mendieta, he said.
But she felt her life was turning for the better in the months before Emmily died. She had a new boyfriend, Bermudez, and her five other children were with her.
She brought Emmily, who had been raised since birth by her aunt and uncle, home to complete the circle. “It was the desire to include Emmily in the family that led to tragic consequences,” he said.
Noting that Mendieta is a first offender, Richardson asked the judge to impose a four- to six-year sentence.
In her victim impact statement, Blanca Parra, 18, Mendieta’s oldest daughter, said she has been doubly hurt by the death of her sister, “the best kid ever,” and her mother’s imprisonment. “I don’t know how much more I can take.”
Selena Parra, the aunt who raised Emmily and now, along with her parents, is taking care of four of Mendieta’s remaining children, told reporters no prison sentence will ever bring back the girl she regarded as a daughter.
Parra recalled the tiny tot who loved chicken soup and dressing in pink. “No one can understand the pain that I feel in my heart to see that someone could hurt such a little person.”
Derrick Parra, 35, Emmily’s biological father, admitted he had been a violent person in the past and accepted responsibility for some of the abuse Mendieta sustained.
“But I was there for my kids . . . I would never hurt my kids.”
The judge will sentence Mendieta March 2.