TWIN FALLS — A man will spend at least seven years in prison after being convicted of beating a 10-year-old girl who said he was mad she did the laundry improperly.
David Herrera-Gonzalez, 32, was sentenced Monday afternoon to 7-15 years, plus court costs, fines and restitution, by Fifth District Judge Roger B. Harris.
He was convicted of three felonies stemming from an incident in February: two counts of injury to a child and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon (spiked brass knuckles). The fourth charge was a misdemeanor battery.
He faced as many as 30 years in prison on the aggravated battery charge.
Herrera-Gonzalez's victim and her mother read victim-impact statements to the court before the attorneys began their arguments.
"February 28 is a day I will never forget," the mother said. "My world was turned upside down."
The child, now 11 years old, told Harris how the abuse she endured has forever changed her.
"I have not been able to sleep peacefully due to nightmares," she said.
The girl testified in July that Gonzalez grew angry with her because she had not done the laundry correctly. He punched her in the left leg and side, leaving bruises, and then placed his fingers in her mouth, pulling on her lower jaw and tearing the flesh beneath her tongue.
Herrera-Gonzalez testified that he hit the girl because she lied and didn’t do the laundry properly, but said he didn’t hit her with brass knuckles. He said he hit the girl in an attempt to spank her, but struck her abdominal area and left thigh instead.
As the incident progressed, “I smacked her three times in her mouth,” Gonzalez said.
When he saw blood coming from the girl’s mouth, Gonzalez said he stepped back and told her to go to the bathroom to clean herself up.
He admitted causing the bruising and the torn flesh beneath her tongue, but denied threatening her or striking her with spiked brass knuckles.
A doctor who examined the girl 11 days after the incident said, “She was at great risk of death.”
At Monday's hearing, Deputy Prosecutor Kiel Willmore reviewed the details of the case, including Herrera-Gonzalez's criminal history dating back to 2001.
"This man is not entitled to any mercy or rehabilitation," Willmore said. "Please hold him accountable."
Daniel Brown, Herrera-Gonzalez's defense attorney, said his client made a terrible decision but noted it was his first felony as an adult.
"He's lost everything at this point," Brown said. "We throw ourselves on the court's mercy."
Herrera-Gonzalez made a statement.
"There's no justification for anything I did," he said. "My actions are not praiseworthy. It's not the way my parents brought me up."
He turned and spoke directly to his victim and her mother, offering his apology and asking forgiveness.
After a brief recess to review the information, Harris returned.
"I don't have the right words to express how wrong your actions were," he told the defendant. "Your actions were not warranted by any means.
"I hope you get the treatment you need," Harris said before adjourning.
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