A Mesa mother pleaded guilty to attempted child abuse and admitted in court Tuesday to intentionally putting her adopted toddler into scalding water.
Defense attorney A. Melvin McDonald said Rachele Baldwin put Samuil Baldwin, who was 21 months old at the time, into the water for a second or two, causing severe burns to his feet and ankles.
Rachele Baldwin, 33, who was facing a mandatory prison term of 17 years if convicted at trial, agreed to serve a term in a Maricopa County jail from nine months to a year. She also voluntarily surrendered custody of the child.
McDonald said he doesn’t believe she intended to scald Samuil.
"The worst-case scenario is that she put him in to teach him a lesson, but I’m not even sure that happened," McDonald said.
Prosecutor Suzanne Cohen said she plans to seek the harshest sentence at Baldwin’s June 10 hearing before Judge Mark Aceto.
A burn expert Samuil was held in the water and suffered third-degree burns, Cohen said. A third-degree burn is when all layers of skin have been burned through.
Police said Baldwin took the boy to Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix on June 27, 2002, saying he turned on the hot water in the tub and burned himself.
"In my heart of hearts I will never believe that she willfully hurt that child," McDonald said.