Philadelphia, PA - Back in 2010, Jaded reported on 36-year-old Aaron Pace, the man accused of using drain cleaner to kill a crying toddler. On Wednesday, Pace pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and was sentenced to 17.5 to 35 years in prison.
Back in February 2010, police were called to a home where they found 20-month-old Suliaman Orrell Kirkland suffering from chemical burns on the upper part of his body. The boy was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, but would die five days later.
The boy’s babysitter, Aaron Pace, admitted he got angry when the toddler became cranky and uncooperative during bath-time, so he grabbed a container of drain-cleaning crystals and then rubbed the caustic substance into the boy’s skin with a rag.
Those who were first on the scene that day, and hospital workers who tried to save the boy’s life, say that Kirkland’s death still effects them to this day.
“In 14 years with the Fire Department, I’ve seen a lot of death and injured children, but this case is the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen,” paramedic Colleen Stankiewicz said. Police Officer Judith Kinniry said she’s haunted by the sight of Kirkland in the emergency room with burns to 20% of his body, stating that the boy’s body was trembling while his skin was sloughing off.
Pace, who was described by his defense attorney as having a low IQ, apologized to the victim’s family. “I just want to say to the family that I’m sorry for what happened,” Pace said. “I never meant this to happen and it hurts me more than anything that he’s gone. I have to take responsibility for this.”
By pleading guilty to third-degree murder, Pace avoids a trial and the possible life sentence he could have gotten if he had been convicted. Some of Pace’s family had to be removed from the courtroom during sentencing after they began swearing and threatening member’s of the victim’s family.