IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - A man will go to prison for at least five years in the death of his girlfriend's young daughter.
Antonio Marcos Bautista entered an Alford plea to felony injury to a child in April. An Alford plea means the defendant is asserting his innocence, but concedes he could be found guilty based on the evidence.
On Monday, he was sentenced to five years determinate and five years indeterminate in the death of 16-month-old Esmiie Quezada in December 2012 after the child was found unresponsive at an Idaho Falls home. She later died at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City.
In Bautista's preliminary hearing in October, a doctor said the girl died of a skull fracture caused by blunt force trauma.
"(Esmiie) made our days so much better, and she was gone just like that," her mother testified at the sentencing hearing Monday at the Bonneville County Courthouse.
Bautista was hoping to get probation and no time behind bars. His lawyer said that Bautista maintains his innocence and that he only took an alford plea because of the bargain deal. He was originally charged with murder in the first degree, but because of the deal it was reduced to felony injury to a child.
Bautista said he believes the baby died of suffocation. He said he put the baby to sleep on the couch around 1:30 a.m. and at 4:30 a.m. he performed CPR. Doctors said Esmiee Quezada died of a skull fracture caused by blunt force trauma.
"These kind of cases are very difficult to both investigate and prosecute, but the Idaho Falls Police Department did an exceptional job investigating this case. These are always very difficult cases when a child passes away, but we do feel that this was an appropriate sentence based on other similar cases that we have handled recently," said Bruce Pickett, Prosecuting Attorney.
The baby died in December of 2012. Bautista's arrest came nearly 8 months after police began investigating.