HOUSTON — A federal appeals court has rejected an appeal from a Texas man serving life in prison for burning one of his girlfriend’s children with acid during an argument while in a pickup truck in far North Texas nearly 10 years ago.
Tracy Lynn Escobedo contended six jurors at his trial in Gainesville, about 60 miles (96.56 kilometers) north of Dallas, were biased when they convicted him in 2010 of felony injury to a child.
“There is no evidence that the jurors in question were actually biased,” the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said late Monday, upholding the rulings of lower courts.
Escobedo, 37, an inmate at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice McConnell Unit, had filed his own appeal.
Four children — 14, 7, 4 and 18 months — were hurt in January 2009 after a bottle of liquid drain cleaner containing sulfuric acid broke open. Testimony showed Escobedo threw it while arguing with their mother, Cynthia Stout. The oldest child was hospitalized for two months and is permanently scarred, according to court documents.
Escobedo was charged with injuring all four but only tried on one of the charges.
Escobedo testified he intended to toss the bag into the back of the pickup and it accidentally went through an open window. He said one of the kids shook the bottle of drain cleaner that he’d intended to use to unclog a drain.
Testimony showed it hit the window frame and broke, spraying the children. Escobedo fled and turned himself in to police days later.
Cooke County prosecutors said his version of the events was intended to cover up his use of the acid in the drain cleaner to make methamphetamine. According to court records, he acknowledged under cross-examination he’d made the illegal drug a week earlier. He also testified he stored his manufacturing equipment in a ditch near the house in Woodbine, a rural area east of Gainesville, where he was living intermittently with Stout and her husband. She was the mother of one of Escobedo’s children, who was among the children hurt.
Stout was convicted of causing serious bodily harm to a child by criminal negligence related to Escobedo’s case and is serving a 10-year prison term.