Abuse resulting in the death of a vulnerable baby, child, youth and senior should result in major prison sentences and not the minor amount of time given to the abusers. Why do we have more outcry over animal abuse than the abuse of human beings. This baby had no chance in hell of surviving his unlucky contact with this abuser. Why should the abuser not get major prison time?
Christie Blatchford: Toddler was left to die slowly over three days
Published: April 25, 2017
Updated: April 26, 2017 6:25 PM
The Province > Array > National
Nicholas Cruz died in 2013, when he was just two years old.
Joel France and Marleny Cruz being taken to a police station on July 14, 2013.
Nicholas Cruz died in 2013.
Such simple words Crown prosecutor Mihael Cole said in a Toronto court Wednesday.
“Nicholas Cruz was two years old at the time of his death.
“He was a baby.
“He slept in a crib.
“He ate in a high chair.
“He still wore diapers.
“He was just reaching the age when he was starting to talk coherently.”
Nicholas was 26 months old when on July 14, 2013, he died of shock, secondary to grave intestinal injuries caused by some sort of blunt-force trauma.
And, as Cole put it, he was then “left to die a slow and agonizing death over the course of three days while he was being poisoned (by the infection) from the inside.”
Though prosecutors couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Joel France, who turns 40 next month, inflicted the lethal injuries — Nicholas’s mother, Marleny Cruz, had opportunity and arguably the wherewithal, and it’s possible the little boy was hurt in an accidental fall — Ontario Superior Court Judge Anne Molloy has ruled that France did assault both mother and son on multiple occasions.
These are considered “aggravating factors” the judge will consider in determining the sentence for France.
He pleaded guilty in February to manslaughter for his failure to provide Nicholas medical care; a key factor in the last-minute plea agreement was the changing testimony from forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Pollanen.
He had testified at France’s preliminary hearing that the baby’s injuries could not have been caused by a fall and would have required significant force. That gave prosecutors confidence that the original charge of second-degree murder could be proved.
But in testimony before Molloy, Pollanen acknowledged he hadn’t surveyed the literature on the subject as he had claimed and it was only in cross-examination, the judge said, that the “weaknesses” in his evidence were revealed.
Cruz, now 29, pleaded guilty to the same manslaughter offence in January and was sentenced to six years in prison. She spent so long in pre-trial custody she will soon be eligible for parole, at which point she will be deported to her native Dominican Republic.
Similarly, France has been in custody since July 15 of 2013, which means, with the “enhanced credit” given those imprisoned before they’re convicted, he is deemed to already have served almost 68 months.
His lawyers, Nathan Gorham and Joanne Park, asked Molloy to sentence him to “one more day” in custody — essentially the time he has served already.
But Cole made a powerful case that France should receive a 10-year prison sentence, which would translate to roughly almost another five years.
At the time of his death, Nicholas’s small body was replete with injuries to his head, both cheeks, right ear, nose, arms, back, stomach and legs.
Mr. France has a need to dominate and control everything in his sphere of influence
He had marks from fingernails “dug into his shoulder and just under his chin.”
Those were just the visible external injuries.
“And of course,” Cole said, “the internal injuries reflect deep bruising to his brain from repeated blows to the head.
“Your Honour has found Mr. France to be the cause of these injuries.
“And they are not from one isolated incident but reflect a pattern of ‘excessive discipline’.”
The lethal injury to Nicholas’s abdomen was estimated to have occurred three days before his death. During that time, he grew progressively worse — crying and moaning, unable to eat or sleep, and soon vomiting green fluid.
By their own admissions, neither Cruz nor France did anything to help the little boy — that is, beyond Cruz searching out Nicholas’s symptoms on the Internet.
Cole said for France, it was all about control and domination “over and over again” on both mother and son, though he knew Cruz had a long history of sexual and physical abuse and had been brutally assaulted by her former partner and that Nicholas was just a baby.
“Mr. France has a need to dominate and control everything in his sphere of influence,” Cole said. “It includes his abuse of every person, child or creature he encounters.”
The two were a couple within a week of meeting, and France had just moved in, and completely taken over Cruz’s small townhouse and her life, three weeks before Nicholas died.
France also has a history of neglect and abuse. He was raised for a time by an aunt who whipped and hit him with belts, belatedly brought as a 10-year-old to Canada to re-join his mother, who had trouble controlling him and sent him into foster care, where he was also physically abused.
But on the cusp of his 40th birthday, Cole pointed out, France has worked only sporadically and was on welfare for 12 of the 14 years before he met Cruz.
Yet for a recent pre-sentence report, he told the probation officer who interviewed him that he had “maintained a consistent employment history” after completing high school and that “he did everything he could to save the victim, including that he attempted to provide CPR….”
As Cole told the judge, “He continues to try and paint himself in the most favourable light possible.”
Indeed, when given a chance to address the court Wednesday, France stood and said, in part, “I’m 40 years old and I have history and none of it leads to this.”
He apologized to Nicholas and his family for what he called “the biggest mistake of my life. I’m upset and depressed for not making the decision to save him.” Then he said he has a big family with lots of children “and none of them has ever ended up hurt in any way,” and called upon “God and the angels” to grant the little boy “the joy he deserves.”
He was weeping, of course, when he said this, adding as a final bit, “I didn’t do this.”
He will be sentenced June firstname.lastname@example.org