A Longmont man who pleaded guilty to causing severe injuries to a 2-year-old girl in 2019 was sentenced to 42 years in prison Tuesday.
Cristian Hernandez, 23, pleaded guilty in January to first-degree assault — extreme indifference, second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and third-degree assault on a pregnant victim.
The plea deal stipulated that Hernandez would serve 32 years in prison on the first-degree assault count followed by 10 years for the second-degree assault count, for a total of 42 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
On Tuesday, Boulder District Judge Norma Sierra made it official and issued the stipulated sentence. Hernandez, who was already in custody, will be remanded to the Colorado Department of Corrections.
“This prison sentence is the right outcome because of the incredibly serious injuries that the defendant inflicted on this young child,” Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty said in a statement. “Due to the outstanding work of the Longmont Police Department and the medical professionals, we were able to prove that the defendant’s initial story was completely false.
“With today’s sentence, this man is being held fully responsible for the injuries and the trauma that he inflicted on the victim,” he said. “This sentence reflects the horrific nature of his conduct. I am grateful to the prosecution team for their tireless efforts and advocacy in this difficult case.”
According to a police report, Longmont officers were called to the Lamplighter Motel, 1642 Main St., on Sept. 3, 2019, when a housekeeper saw Hernandez run out of his room with the child, who had bruises on her face and was having difficulty breathing. The housekeeper said the girl appeared “lifeless” and looked like she had been beaten.
The 2-year-old girl was initially taken to Longmont United Hospital but was airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Denver with a “significant brain injury” and fractured ribs.
According to the arrest report, the child is the daughter of Hernandez’s girlfriend, but is not his biological child. The girl’s mother told police she had been dating Hernandez for four months leading up to the incident, and was pregnant with their child.
She told police Hernandez had recently become physically abusive toward both her and her daughter, and had been spanking the girl almost daily for the past two weeks with both a leather belt and his hand.
The woman said she found her daughter the weekend before the incident with bruising and bleeding on her face. She said Hernandez told her the girl was dragged on the ground by a friend’s dog.
According to the affidavit, the woman said she tried to leave Hernandez later that night and that he became upset and choked her to the point of unconsciousness with his bare hands.
The woman said she had been at an appointment on Sept. 3 and did not know anything about what happened that morning before the arrest.
Hernandez admitted to police he had hit the girl with his belt and hands on 10 different occasions, but said the injuries at the motel were the result of her falling off the bed.
But doctors examined the girl and found severe bruising on her face, legs, torso, back and buttocks that they deemed could not be the result of an accident.
While no pre-sentence report was conducted prior to the hearing, prosecutors said Hernandez, who claimed he was treated unfairly by the county at his previous hearing, again failed to take responsibility for his actions at his hearing Tuesday.
“Despite making the decision to avoid trial by pleading guilty and stipulating to a 42-year prison sentence, Mr. Hernandez took no responsibility for his crimes and blamed others for his actions,” Chief Trial Deputy District Attorney Adam Kendall and Deputy District Attorney Breck Roesch said in a joint statement. “But, justice was done in the courtroom today. The 42-year prison sentence to be served by Mr. Hernandez is the appropriate punishment for him considering the heinous crimes he committed and the life-threatening injuries he inflicted on a toddler.
“This was an incredibly difficult case for everyone involved. We want to thank the Longmont Police Department for their tireless investigation and effort to ensure the right outcome occurred in this case. We also want to relay our gratitude to all of the medical professionals who treated the young victim’s injuries. Their expert work saved her life, and we are delighted to report that she continues her recovery as a happy, energetic 4-year-old.”
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