Saying there was no excuse for what he did, the Toledo man who stood by as his girlfriend submerged the couple’s new baby in a bathtub, then strangled the child with a shoelace said in court Tuesday that he would dedicate his time in prison to his son.
Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Myron Duhart gave Antonio Cervantes 15 years to do that.
The judge said he was disturbed to hear Cervantes refer to the newborn, whose body he placed and left in a freezer, as his son.
“It strikes me when you do that because I’m still not sure it’s hit you yet that you assisted in the termination of your son’s life,” Judge Duhart said. “Have you thought about that, really, when you mention your son?”
Cervantes, 19, of 5324 Rector Dr. pleaded guilty last month to involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse for his part in the infant’s death in January, 2012.
The child’s mother, Kenisha Pruitt, 21, of 2631 Scottwood Ave. pleaded guilty to aggravated murder Feb. 22 and was sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after 20 years.
During her plea hearing, she admitted that after giving birth at the Paine Avenue home she shared with Cervantes, she held the baby underwater in the tub, then tied a shoelace that Cervantes had given to her around the baby’s neck.
The property’s landlord found the tiny corpse in the freezer April 13, 2012, while he was cleaning the house after the couple had moved out.
“Those acts are heinous and horrible so much so that it shocked the consciousness of the community,” Judge Duhart told Cervantes. “How could you do such a thing?”
Defense attorney Pete Rost told the court that it was not his client’s idea to kill the child, but he conceded Cervantes knew it was wrong, knew he could’ve stopped it, but didn’t.
Cervantes thanked his family and friends for their support.
“I apologize to them, and I especially apologize to my son who this happened to,” he said. “I know what I did was wrong. I take full responsibility for what I have done.”
Judge Duhart said the court received letters from not only family and friends but teachers and neighbors expressing support for Cervantes. Still, he said, that did not change what Cervantes did — or didn’t do to prevent his son’s death.
“As the father of this child, it’s your responsibility — I don’t care what the mother asked you to do or didn’t ask you to do or whatever her actions were — it’s your responsibility as the father to protect. You utterly failed in your job, your responsibility, and your duty as a man who fathered that child.”
Family members, who wept during the hearing, declined to comment afterward.
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