Woman Pleads in Beating Death of Toddler

An eastern Pennsylvania woman will be sentenced next month after pleading guilty in the beating death of her 15-month-old son a year ago.

Thirty-five-year-old Essence James of Allentown was scheduled for trial in Lehigh County Court in the March 2013 death of Cordero James.

She pleaded guilty Thursday to third-degree murder under a plea agreement under which prosecutors will recommend a 15-year minimum term.

James tried to enter the plea last week, but Judge Maria Dantos rejected the plea after the defendant denied having beaten the child.

Prosecutors said James' boyfriend told police that he saw her take the boy into the bathroom and heard her beating him, and he later heard the baby gasping for air.

James is scheduled for sentencing April 11.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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