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Heroin Addict Gets 25 Years

June 3, 2000

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ A judge sentenced a heroin addict to 25 years to life in prison Friday for the torture killing a toddler left in his care.

Trent Fouts, 35, was convicted of murder in March for the 1997 death of 1 1/2-year-old Joshua Massengill. Joshua’s mother, Jenise Massengill, had been sharing a motel room with Fouts and had left Joshua with him.

The boy was later found propped up against a wall at a convalescent hospital, his body scalded and bruised and the skin on his genitals nearly rubbed off. Marks on the child’s head showed he had been struck with a narrow rod nearly two dozen times.

Fouts, an admitted heroin addict, testified he had gotten high just before Massengill left. He said Joshua’s injuries resulted from a series of accidents.

Fouts was acquitted of a charge of molestation, a special circumstance that, had he been found guilty, would have made him eligible for the death penalty.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Henderson called Joshua’s death ``the most heinous, brutal child murder I’ve seen.″

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