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.″