MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (FOX 9) - A 1-year-old Maplewood. girl was beaten to death by her mom's boyfriend, who filmed some of the abuse on his cellphone, charges against him allege.
Terrance Valdez Leslie, 26, of Maplewood, is charged in Ramsey County District Court with second-degree murder in the death of the 17-month-old girl on Tuesday, Oct. 18. According to charges, he beat and burned the young child.
Leslie is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Friday morning.
Initially, Maplewood Police said the child's mother was also arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder. She has not been formally charged, and the Ramsey County Attorney's Office says police haven't yet presented a case against her for charging review. In criminal complaint against Leslie, the child's mom says she was also abused by Leslie.
Warning: The following details of this case are disturbing.
According to the criminal complaint and police, officers responded to the 1400 block of County Road B East in Maplewood at 7:28 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 18, on a report of a 17-month-old child with "serious burn injuries." In the apartment, police found the child with "fresh burns to her right cheek, on each side of her neck, on her right forearm and shoulder."
The child was "extremely lethargic and unresponsive," charges said. The girl would not open her eyes. When medics removed the child's clothing, they found dark bruises all over her back and abdomen and rushed her to Children's Hospital in St. Paul.
The child went into cardiac arrest and died at 9:53 p.m. on Tuesday, charges said.
The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's autopsy determined her death was caused by "multiple traumatic injuries due to assault," the complaint states. She suffered multiple injuries, including broken bones, internal bleeding in the brain and lacerations to internal organs. She also had injuries consistent with sexual assault.
The charges against Terrance Leslie
According to the complaint, Leslie and the child's mom were in the apartment with the girl when the police arrived on Tuesday evening. Both said Leslie watched the child that day while her mom was at work.
Leslie told police he was preparing a bath for the child and started the hot water, but he left the bathroom for a moment to tend to the dog and the child fell in the hot water, charges said. When he was drying her off, her skin peeled off. That's when he says he called the child's mom, who returned home from work.
Charges allege that's not what happened. Officers noted the bathtub was completely dry except for a few water droplets around the drain and there were no damp towels in the bathroom, charges said. The child's burn patterns also did not appear to match Leslie's story, and measurements of the temperature of the hot water from the bathtub did not appear hot enough to cause the degree of burns on the girl's body. Meanwhile, a search of Leslie's phone uncovered a Google search about the degree of burns caused by "boiling water."
The girl's mom told police Leslie called her between 4-5 p.m. on Tuesday, during which Leslie told her the child fell in the tub and was burned. She returned home and "spent time trying to arrange a ride to the hospital," charges said.
The emergency room doctor told investigators many of the bruises on the child's body were old, which indicates ongoing abuse, charges allege. There were also fresh bruises on the child's face and blood behind the child's eardrum, indicating a brain injury.
The child's mom told police she has been dating Leslie for 2-3 months, and they've been living together for several weeks, charges state. After initially denying Leslie abused her, she admitted he punches and kicks her. In the last few weeks, the child's mom said Leslie assaulted her while she was holding the girl and some of the blows struck the child. She told police she was physically fine when she left her in Leslie's care on Tuesday.
A search of Leslie's phone turned up several videos and images of the alleged abuse, including a video of Leslie yelling at the child to shut up and to stop crying when she quietly whimpers after he forcefully moved her head, charges said. The videos were taken prior to the girl suffering the burns to her body.
Leslie does have a criminal history. He was adjudicated delinquent for threats of violence in Hennepin County in 2009. And was an adjudicated delinquent in Hennepin County for being an ineligible person in possession of a firearm in 2012, charges say. Court records show Leslie was charged in 2016 with first-degree murder and second-degree murder but was found not guilty. However, he was convicted of being an ineligible person in possession of a firearm in 2017.