STICKNEY TOWNSHIP, IL – A 58-year-old Stickney Township woman is accused of trying to suffocate a 6-year-old boy under her care when he wouldn’t stop crying. Julie Espinoza appeared Wednesday before Cook County Judge Linzie Jones on a charge of felony aggravated battery of a child.

The prosecutor said Espinoza had assumed legal guardianship of the boy and his two siblings last year when their grandmother died. Espinoza had no familial relationship with the children. The children lived with her in the 7000 block of West 71st Street in unincoporated Stickney Township. Recenlty, the prosecutor said that Espinoza had become increasingly agitated with the children.

The evening of Feb. 26, Espinoza had put the boy to bed in a room that they shared. His 9-year-old sister had invited a little friend over to stay overnight. When Espinoza shut off the lights, the boy asked her to turn the lights back on because he was afraid of the dark.

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Espinoza started screaming at the boy and calling him stupid, the prosecutor said. When the boy wouldn’t stop crying, the prosecutor said Espinoza crushed his face into the pillow. She then laid on top of him and held his face in the pillow for approximately one minute, according to the complaint.

The boy’s sister and her friend entered Espinoza’s bedroom when they heard screaming, and started recording audio on the girl’s phone, but no video, the prosecutor said.

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On the audio, the prosecutor said the boy can be heard crying loudly, coughing and gagging. Eventually he was able to shake Espinoza off him. The boy began fighting the woman, who the prosecutor said pinched the boy hard on the leg multiple times. When the boy was able to sit up he vomited all over himself and his bedding. The prosecutor said Espinoza pushed the boy’s face into the vomit and told him to eat it. Eventually, Espinoza left the bedroom.

The boy’s sister and her friend went told an 18-year-old relative who also lived in the home, who called 911.

The next day, the prosecutor said the boy told a school social worker what happened. Burbank police went to the boy’s grammar school. A report was made to DCFS and the boy was taken to Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn. Doctors did not diagnose the boy with any injuries related to the incident, but did say the boy had bruises all over his body of various ages, according to the complaint.

Espinoza did not appear to have any criminal background.

Her attorney told the judge that Espinoza is a Reavis High School graduate. She is in the process of adopting the three children, which also includes a 3-year-old sibling. Espinoza turned herself in Tuesday to Cook County Sheriff’s Police. The attorney said the children were now living with relatives in Burbank.

“As far as I’m concerned, she’s going to be very cooperative. She has medical issues that need to be tended to today,” her attorney said. “Based on no background and no injuries except multiple bruises that wasn’t linked to my client by the assistant state’s attorney.”

Espinoza’s attorney further argued that except for audio and the video “where you can’t see anything, only hear something, I ask respectfully that we have an I-bond issue.”

The children are presently with other relatives. Judge Jones told Espinoza to have no contact with the children.

“You will comply with my admonition to make no efforts to contact these children directly or through a third party by phone or by any other means,” the judge said. “You stay away with them.”

The judge released Espinoza on a $20,000 I-bond. Her next court date is April 28 in Bridgeview.

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