A Castroville man was sentenced in Salinas today to 25 years to life in prison for beating an infant girl to death and burying her in her diaper bag, according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office. Jesus Vargas Espinoza, 47, was sentenced in Superior Court after his conviction for assaulting and killing a child under eight years old who was in his care, Deputy District Attorney’s Jeannine Pacioni said. The disappearance of Angelle Negron, aged 10 months, in February prompted a statewide manhunt for Espinoza, to whom her family had entrusted Angelle to take care of temporarily. The girl’s extended family left Angelle with Espinoza on Feb. 2 because he was the boyfriend of the girl’s mother, Linda Morales, who was in a live-in drug rehab program, according to the Angelle’s grandmother, Pompey Morales. Espinoza was not the girl’s biological father but had been on outings with her before and seemed to have bonded with the baby, Pompey Morales said. During a probe by the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office and the district attorney’s office, witnesses said Espinoza admitted he hit the girl with a belt and his hand while he had her, Pacioni said.
After the girl died on Feb. 14, Espinoza buried her unclothed in her diaper bag, Pacioni said. Her family reported her missing on Feb. 17 after Espinoza failed to show up at an agreed spot to return the girl, sheriff’s deputies said. On Feb. 18, Los Angeles police aided by FBI agents arrested Espinoza in downtown Los Angeles, deputies said. Espinoza, who had cut his hair to avoid detection, was attempting to escape to Mexico on a Greyhound bus when he was apprehended, Pacioni said. Sheriff’s deputies found the infant’s body, based on a location described by Espinoza, under some brush off of Market Street near Davis Road just outside the Salinas city limits. The Monterey County coroner’s office concluded that Angelle had died from blunt force trauma to the head, Pacioni said.
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