A Hammond man whose jury trial had been scheduled to start Monday has pleaded guilty
to neglect of a dependent in connection with a 2008 child-abuse death.
Jose Antonio Mendoza, 30, faces a 45-year prison term
under the plea agreement submitted last week to Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Ross Boswell. Sentencing is Dec. 7.
If Boswell accepts the plea agreement, a murder charge punishable by 45 to 65 years in prison will be dropped.
On Oct. 4, 2008, the girl was rushed to St. Margaret Mercy Hospital in Hammond and airlifted to University of Chicago Hospital, where she was pronounced dead the following day. The child died of multiple injuries stemming from child abuse. She had bruises on both sides of her head, face, ears, eyelids, chin, chest, arms, right shoulder, left thigh and knee and both legs. She had a burn on her right hand, and her anal wall was torn. The child also suffered bleeding in the head, spine, back, neck, arm and both eyes.
Jaime Leigh Erickson, 25, of Whiting, pleaded guilty in May 2009
to neglect of a dependent, a Class B felony punishable by a six- to 20-year sentence
. Erickson's plea agreement required her cooperation in the prosecution of Mendoza.
Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 6.