Miguel Padilla, thirty-two, was finally convicted December 10 for the 2005 death of his two year old daughter.
Over four years after the September 23, 2005 death of his daughter, Artearia Love as the result of blunt force trauma, this Atlanta man has been sentenced to life in prison.
The little girl’s mother had left Artearia with Padilla while she went to work that day. Around three hours after she left, Padilla left the house and approached a neighbor, who he told that Artearia had blood in her diaper, and that she was holding her stomach.
Padilla failed to seek help immediately because he feared reporting the injuries would lead to his arrest on unrelated charges.
The neighbor urged Padilla to call 9-1-1, but court officials report that he hesitated. Padilla had an outstanding warrant for parole violation. At the time, he was on parole for burglary.
After his conversation with the neighbor, Padilla returned home to find his daughter’s body lying cold in her own vomit.
In his testimony, the Fulton County Medical examiner explained how the girl had suffered trauma from an impact to her stomach, with force comparable to that of an automobile accident. As a result of her injuries, the two year old girl bled to death.
Childhood death due to neglect or parental abuse remains a serious problem in our country, despite the best efforts of the child protection system and the general sentiment of our society. While deaths due to accidents and illness tend to be closely monitored and recorded, in cases of abuse or maltreatment, the perpetrators – most likely the victims parents or some other trusted guardian – are unlikely to be forthcoming.
Most data on child abuse fatalities come from state level child welfare agencies, and while these agencies may draw on supplementary resources for additional information, most experts still believe that child abuse and neglect fatalities are under reported in this country.
The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System estimated 1,760 children died in 2007 as a result of maltreatment. They also report a chilling trend: it appears that the number of child fatalities has been gradually increasing over the last five years.
While there are complicating factors in this report, such as improved data collection and variations among the systems that collect this information, these findings still point to the unfortunate fact that for an estimated 2.35 children out of every 100,000, the people who ought to be supporting and protecting them are in fact, ending their lives.
The vast majority of victims in these cases are children under the age of three, and infants under one year old are especially vulnerable, making up an estimated 42.2 percent of child abuse fatalities.
In 69.9 percent of cases, one or both of the victim’s parents were responsible for the child’s death.
For more information about child abuse and fatalities, and particularly how they could be prevented, visit Preventing Child Abuse & Neglect. And if you ever even suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, report it. Isn’t it better to be wrong and embarrassed than to be right and remain silent while a child is abused? As adults, we are responsible for the welfare of the littlest ones among us. Don’t neglect an at-risk child by failing to provide all the help you can.