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Del Angel pleads guilty

By Staff | Sep 29, 2008

A 17-year-old Kiester male is going to prison for seriously burning a child and leaving her with permanent injuries.

In a plea agreement, Selerino Del Angel pleaded guilty to a felony-level charge of malicious punishment of a child in Faribault County District Court last week.

His attorney, public defender Troy Timmerman, says his client still has a fifth-degree assault charge pending. The misdemeanor offense stems from a fight with another inmate at the county jail.

When questioned by Timmerman, the teen admitted that, while babysitting, he was punishing the child when the burns occurred.

“You wanted to teach her a lesson by putting her in hot water … that she shouldn’t get dirty again,” Timmerman asked.

Del Angel replied, “Yes.”

Timmerman then asked him if he was aware doctors were not sure if the child was going to live and that she now suffers permanent injuries.

Again, Del Angel answered with a “yes.” He admitted the punishment was excessive and more than she deserved.

Initially, Del Angel also was charged with first-degree assault and neglect or endangerment of a child.

A trial was scheduled to be held in early October, after he entered not guilty pleas to the three counts in June.

Timmerman says for the past month he and County Attorney Brian Roverud worked on the plea bargain.

“We have agreed he would be sentenced to 42 months. That’s within the allowable standard guidelines and is not a downward departure,” says Timmerman.

Roverud says family members are comfortable with the deal reached and are ready to move forward.

“It was a very, very horrible situation, the pain she went through. Fortunately she’s recovered, but she’ll have to deal with this the rest of her life,” Roverud says.

Del Angel also has agreed to voluntarily give up his parental rights to a biological child he has with the mother of the 2-year-old girl.

Details of the case became public when Judge Douglas Richards signed an order June 12 allowing the teen to be tried as an adult. Prior to then, all hearings were closed and held in juvenile court.

According to a court complaint, Faribault County investigator Todd Duit was notified on Nov. 7 that a woman brought her 2-year-old daughter to the Naeve Hospital emergency room in Albert Lea.

The child was suffering from second- and third-degree burns over 40 percent of her body, the complaint states. She was later transferred to the burn unit at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

The mother told authorities her daughter received the burns while bathing. She says the child turned off the cold water when she turned away.

The complaint says hospital staff and a resident physician did not believe the scald burns were consistent with the mother’s claims.

A social worker at Regions, says the complaint, told officials the child’s injuries appeared to have been intentional. And, it was possible something had been placed over her face when she was submerged while being scalded in hot water.

When interviewed two days later, the woman said when she came home from work she found her daughter on the floor and Del Angel on the couch crying.

The complaint says the woman and Del Angel talked about what they were going to say had happened and she wanted to cover for him.

Del Angel has been held in the county jail since June 13 on $50,000 bail, $10,000 cash to be released. He remains in custody while a pre-sentence investigation is conducted, which is expected to be completed within 30 days.

The assault charge carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $30,000 fine, while malicious penalty has a maximum sentence of 10 years and a $10,000 fine; and neglect or endangerment, five years and a $10,000 fine.