Maplewood man sentenced for murder of 1-year-old girl

A Maplewood man was sentenced in court Thursday for the death of his girlfriend’s 1-year-old daughter who was fatally beaten last October

A Ramsey County Court judge sentenced Terrance Valdez Leslie, 26, to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder in the death of a 17-month-old girl in October 2022. 

Leslie initially pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder but changed to a guilty plea on March 28, 2023, as a part of a deal, according to court records. 

Warning: The following details of this case are disturbing.

Paramedics responded to a call on October 18, 2022, for a 1-year-old with serious burn injuries and found the girl with fresh burns to her right cheek, each side of her neck, forearm and shoulder. Paramedics also found dark bruises on her body and she was rushed to the hospital where she later died, according to court records. 

An emergency room physician advised the injuries suggested ongoing physical abuse and noted she may also have a brain injury given the blood behind the eardrum. 

An autopsy determined the cause of death was caused multiple traumatic injuries due to assault. There were several fractured bones, internal bleeding in the brain, in addition to other injuries. Her death was determined to be a homicide. 

According to court records, the child's mom told police she has been dating Leslie for 2-3 months, and they've been living together for several weeks, charges state. The child’s mom said Leslie physically abused her and has assaulted her while holding her daughter, and some of the blows hit the child. She told police that her child was physically fine when she left her with Leslie on Oct. 18. 

Investigators searched Leslie’s phone and found disturbing videos showing the 1-year-old girl’s injuries and him yelling at her to "shut up" and to "stop crying" when she quietly whimpers after he forcefully moved her head, charges said. The videos were taken prior to the girl suffering burn injuries. 

Leslie was sentenced to serve 40 years behind bars at St. Cloud prison with credit for 191 days served.  

If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit the hotline’s website to chat with an expert.