18-year-old sentenced to 6 years for causing death of toddler while Facebooking

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Jesus Cornelio

Jesus Cornelio

GREELEY, Colo. — A minor who was charged as an adult received a six-year sentence Wednesday for an incident that led to the death of his 2-year-old cousin.

Jesus Cornelio, now 18, was 17 years old in March 2011, when he struck and shook his cousin, Jose Cornelio-Espinoza, eventually causing the toddler’s death.

According to a police report, Cornelio was accessing Facebook on his cell phone when Cornelio-Espinoza grabbed at the device. As a response, Cornelio shoved his cousin in the chest, causing the toddler to strike his head on a coffee table. Cornelio shook the toddler in an apparent effort to revive him, but Cornelio-Espinoza began vomiting and became unresponsive.

He died two days later.

Cornelio had been charged with the task of babysitting Cornelio-Espinoza and his four-month-old nephew when the incident occurred. There were conflicting reports about whether or not Cornelio had ever watched over his two young relatives before. His father, Martin Cornelio, said his son had been forced to watch the two, who he called “rowdy,”  during the particular occasion in question.

Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck made the decision to try Cornelio as an adult, saying it opened the possibility of placing him in the Youth Offender System, which, Buck’s office wrote, “has a proven record of rehabilitating young offenders.”

Cornelio pleaded guilty last month to one count of child abuse resulting in death, a class two felony. In addition to a sentence of six years in the Youth Offender System, Cornelio was given a suspended sentence of 18 years in the Department of Corrections.