Father admits beatings that lead to 5-year-old’s death
Emanuel, 27, of Trenton, charged with murder in connection with the death of his 5-year-old daughter, admitted Monday in accepting a plea deal calling for a 25-year sentence that he was caring for the child alone when he grew angry with her and struck her in the head nearly a dozen times with a hair brush.
He testified that he repeatedly struck the girl using a belt he and his girlfriend and co-defendant Dominique Smith, 24, used to discipline the girl and her brother.
The July 2012 beating was so severe the child lost control of her bodily functions, Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Kimm Lacken said, causing the girl to urinate and defecate on herself.
Lacken said the parents didn’t seek medical treatment for their daughter, telling authorities they found the the girl unresponsive after giving her asthma medication July 10 and allowing her to sleep in the living room.
An autopsy revealed the child suffered hemorrhaging in four areas of her head and died of blunt force trauma to the head. She was severely underweight and had likely been abused over a lengthy period as she had fresh and healing wounds, prosecutors have said.
Emanuel, a burly inmate outfitted in teal prison garb, will have to serve roughly 21 years of his sentence under the No Early Release Act before he is eligible for parole.
He didn’t explain why he chose to accept prosecutors’ deal against the advice of his attorney, Steven Lember, who was prepared to try the case before a jury.
Lember appeared confounded when explaining to Judge Robert Billmeier his client’s decision, noting he advised Emanuel to reject the plea deal.
But Emanuel’s decision appears motivated by his desire to shield the mother of the child from severe prosecution.
Smith was also charged with murder, three counts of endangering the welfare of a child and weapons offenses after authorities searched the couple’s home and found a belt and belt buckle which they say was used to beat the girl and her brother.
Smith, who was supposed to appear before the court Monday but didn’t because her attorney had a scheduling conflict, is expected to plead guilty to a single count of child endangerment in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence.
Emanuel is scheduled for sentencing May 28. Smith is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.