A Kane County judge Tuesday sentenced an Elgin man to 7½ years in prison for breaking the legs of his girlfriend's 8-week-old daughter in April 2010.
"This was a very bad act and it was a very serious act," Judge Patricia Golden said. "It is thankfully not one that I have reason to believe was repeated a number of times."
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Ricardo Robeldo-Espino, 29, of the 300 block of McClure Avenue, must serve 85 percent of his sentence, or a little more than six years.
Golden found Espino guilty of two counts of aggravated battery to a child after an August bench trial. The charges carried a minimum term of six years and a maximum of 30.
Before the sentence, a tearful Espino apologized and asked Golden for leniency, saying he loved the girl, who will turn 3 in February and is now his stepdaughter because he married the baby's mom while in jail.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I intend to harm my baby in any way," he said.
During the trial, several doctors and nurses testified that the baby's "bucket handle fractures" on her legs were caused by significant, violent force and were not accidental.
Espino testified in his own defense, saying he gently pulled the infant toward him by her feet while she was on a bed on April 3, 2010, and that action could have injured the baby.
Assistant State's Attorney Deb Bree said a significant sentence was needed to protect children and suggested up to 14 years, or one year for every day the state contends Espino knew about the baby's injuries while he and the baby's mother took her to several hospitals.
"This defendant knew why, knew what had caused it, and didn't say anything," Bree said.
Defense attorney Daniel Radakovich argued for the minimum six-year sentence. He said that emergency room doctors at Sherman Hospital didn't know what happened to the baby, so it's conceivable Espino didn't know, either.
Radakovich also noted that Espino met the victim's mom when she was pregnant, was there for the baby's birth, provided for the woman's two other children, and that Espino had minimal criminal history.
Radakovich said Espino was not a U.S. citizen and would be deported after his sentence was served. "(Their family) is over unless there is a relocation to Mexico because we know what will happen (when Espino is released)," he said.