A Billings judge followed a prosecutor’s recommendation and gave a woman a sentence of five years on probation for hitting her 3-year-old daughter so hard the child stopped breathing.
District Judge Russell C. Fagg gave Angela Antonette Carrillo, 34, a sentence of five years to the state Department of Corrections, with all that time suspended, for a count of felony assault on a minor.
“Ms. Carrillo, this was a very serious situation,” the judge said. “We’re lucky we don’t have a homicide on our hands.”
The judge said he was comfortable with the sentence because Carrillo has already spent 87 days in jail.
Carrillo’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Michael Usleber, argued for a sentence of three years on probation, and said his client is already on probation through the state department of family services.
Usleber said that a psychological evaluation of his client showed that Carrillo is on the low end of the cognitive spectrum and was the victim of child abuse and neglect.
“It is quite sad,” Usleber said. “It reminds me how much our personalities, and perhaps in fact our destinies, are determined by circumstances outside of our control.”
Carrillo pleaded guilty to the charge at the end of January. In exchange, a second charge of felony assault on a minor was dismissed.
A prosecutor said Tuesday that Carrillo has eight children.
A man who identified himself as the father of Carrillo’s youngest child, whom he said was only a few weeks old, spoke on Carrillo’s behalf.
“She hasn’t been doing no drugs or alcohol or nothing, like she’s been clean and sober,” he said. “She’s been doing the programs and stuff that she’s been required to do. She’s been trying her best.”
“She is not going to prison today, but what she did was very serious,” Fagg explained to the man. “She seriously injured one of her children, to the point where the child stopped breathing.”
According to court records, two women took Carrillo’s then 3-year-old daughter to a Billings hospital emergency room in August 2012 and reported that the child had been abused.
Carrillo and her daughter were living with one of the two women at the time of the incident, the documents say. The woman reported that she heard Carrillo in a room swearing at the child and then heard a loud smack. The second woman said she witnessed a similar incident a couple of days later, after which the two women took the child to the hospital, telling Carrillo they were taking the girl for a walk.
Fagg told Carrillo that she needs to address whatever “demons” got her to the point where she assaulted her daughter.
“If you’re not successful on your probationary sentence, you will go to Montana Women’s Prison,” he said. “That’s the next step.”
“I wish you the best,” the judge said.