Mom pleads guilty to locking child in closet

February 15, 2011 10:50:04 AM PST
A Texas mother has pleaded guilty to charges of locking her 12-year-old daughter in a closet every day after school for about a year, only letting her out to use the restroom and eat. Leticia Ines was sentenced to one year in prison but a judge granted her time served, meaning the 41-year-old Brownsville mother who prosecutors described as now homeless and jobless could be free early as March 1.

Ines pleaded guilty Monday to one count of injury to a child. Her attorney, Alfredo Padilla, said during the court hearing that Ines confined her daughter for her own protection because the girl had psychological issues and had tried to stab her brothers.

"Fortunately there was no physical injury. The issue was more of a gross lack of parenting skill and the defendant's inability to cope with a special needs child," Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos told The Brownsville Herald.

Ines and her husband, Alfredo Ines, were arrested in January 2010. Investigators at the time said the girl looked so malnourished that she only appeared to be 8 years old, and that she completed her homework by light coming through the crack of the closet door.

The girl also used a bucket in the closet if she had to use the bathroom overnight, authorities said.

According to court documents, the girl denied that she had been abused or threatened by her parents. A medical examination also showed no evidence of abuse.

The girl and her brothers have been placed with a foster family, Villalobos said.

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