An Orange county man accused of beating a two-year-old decided he wanted to face a jury instead of taking a plea deal for his case.
Justin Brooks was charged with injury to a child in August of 2015 for beating and burning a 2-year-old boy with cigarettes and a lighter.
Brooks originally planned on entering a plea deal of 10 years in prison with possible probation.
He reportedly was interested in receiving shock probation which means a person can request probation if a sentence is 10 years or less. A person can make a request for probation after they serve up to 180 days in jail depending on the judge.
The victim’s mother said she is glad this case is getting taken to court because she wants Brooks to face the maximum punishment for his crimes.
Sherry Hickman said her little boy is still struggling with medical issues like his hearing. She states after he was almost beaten to death he no longer has any peripheral vision.
“I threw up when I walked into that ER room the entire body was bruised his teeth were broken, this kid was tortured,” said Hickman.
She said a babysitter was watching her son on a Sunday afternoon on August 20 in Orange the day of the incident.
Hickman states the babysitter decided to run a quick errand after she put the child down for a nap and called Justin Brooks who was her boyfriend at the time.
She said she received a call later in the day that her son was in the hospital.
"He didn't just fracture his skull, he broke it, it was a break about the size of a softball,” said Hickman. “He cracked all of his ribs, he burned him well over 50 times.”
According to an Orange County indictment from September of 2016 Brooks burned Hickman’s son with a cigarette and a lighter. It also states he hit the child with an unknown object and his hand.
The mother said her child’s skull had several skull fractures and he received burns all over his body.
"There really is monsters out there people like that, there aren't any other word for them," said Hickman.
Brooks’ father, Troy, said having a trial is the best way for all the facts to come out. He believes the child was injured on accident because he was jumping off a bed.
"I will stand by my son, if he tells me he didn’t do it I’m going to stand beside him,” said Brooks. “If I am in the courtroom and they produce proof then I am going to know the truth.”
Brooks is also facing an injury to child felony charge, DWI, possession of a controlled substance and a terroristic threat charges.
Prosecutor Michael Marion said a trial date could be set within the next 45 days. Brooks could face 5-99 years to life in prison. The jury could also sentence him to 10 years of probation if he does not have any prior felony convictions.
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