FORT WORTH -- A Haltom City woman will not receive jail time for failing to get immediate medical care for her baby, who was beaten to death last year by the child's father.
Under a plea agreement, Ashley Nicole Massey, 21, was sentenced to seven years' probation in the death of 2-month-old Elena Contreras. The baby had at least six skull fractures, a crushed liver, shattered kidneys and spleen and a severe brain injury with swelling and bleeding when she arrived at a Fort Worth hospital in August 2010.
Elena's father, Alfonso Contreras Jr., 21, was convicted in June of capital murder and was automatically sentenced to life in prison.
Massey, who was at work when the child was beaten, pleaded guilty to injury to a child by omission Thursday in Criminal District Court No. 297. Prosecutors said she was not accused of hurting her daughter but of failing to protect her from Contreras.
"Our case against Ashley Massey largely centered around text messages that Alfonso Contreras had sent her, in which he states Elena had been injured. It's our contention that Ashley, based on those text messages, should have known her child was in danger," said Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Bill Vassar in an e-mail Monday. "However, some text messages were ruled inadmissible, which compromised our case against her. Ashley Massey clearly deserved to spend some time in prison, but the risk of her walking away without any repercussions at all was too great. We offered her the plea bargain, which will ensure that she will be under court supervision for at least the next seven years."
Massey's attorney, Ernie Bates of Fort Worth, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Massey told a Child Protective Services official that she was surprised to learn that Elena had so many injuries and that she couldn't think of anything that had happened to Elena that would have caused her to be injured so badly, according to a CPS affidavit.
According to June testimony at Contreras' trial, he took care of Elena when Massey was at work. They lived in a mobile home park in the 6000 block of East Belknap Street in Haltom City.
About 12:50 a.m. Aug. 23, Massey noticed that Elena was not breathing and called 911. Massey administered cardio-pulmonary resuscitation as she was on the phone with a dispatcher.
Witnesses testified that Contreras appeared calm when firefighters and paramedics worked to revive her.
At Cook Children's Medical Center, doctors determined that Elena had numerous injuries. She died within a few hours.
One trauma surgeon believed that Elena was stomped or held by her ankles and hit against a wall, according to CPS reports.
Contreras told CPS investigators that she might have been injured when he slipped and fell as he carried her a few days before she died. He also told authorities that Elena might have been hurt when her 1-year-old stepsister accidentally dropped a spice rack on her head.
The older child was placed in temporary foster care, and a court later awarded joint custody to her father and paternal grandparents, according to CPS records.
Vassar said Monday that Massey was later awarded possessory conservatorship, which allows her to have supervised visitation with that daughter.
Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763