Easton Dad Gets 20-40 Years in Baby's Murder
Defense paints Joseph Urquia as a good man in over his head, but DA says he deserves maximum penalty.
Joseph Urquia was born dead.
Twenty-two years ago in Venezuela, a doctor worked to revive him, his mother told a Northampton County Courtroom Tuesday.
Two decades later, in a fit of anger, Urquia would take the life of another baby: his 11 week-old daughter Joselynn, at their apartment on Seventh Street in Easton.
For that crime, he will spend 20-40 years in prison, Judge Paula Roscioli ordered. Urquia pleaded guilty in May to third degree murder.
On December 19, 2010, Urquia punched Joselynn in the head, causing fatal injuries. Police say he lost his temper when the baby wouldn't stop crying. Urquia has a previous conviction for assaulting his older daughter in 2009; he had been in therapy since then to learn how to cope with his anger.
"Your baby was completely helpless at 11 weeks old, and you were given so many tools to keep this from happening," the judge said. Why not go outside to cool off, Roscioli asked, or call a neighbor or a family member.
"Anything...anything other than what you did," she said.
In court on Tuesday, the judge heard from witnesses who painted Urquia as a good man who was in over his head, and from the baby's mother, who wept through the hearing and spoke of her "angel" of a daughter.
"I'm not going to see her smile," Brenda De La Cruz said through an interpreter. "I'm never going to see how beautiful she could have been. No one is ever going to erase that I had a baby and her father killed her."
First Deputy District Attorney Terrance Houck noted that Urquia was on probation for the first assault at the time of Joselynn's death.
"There's no greater responsibility than a father to his child," he said. "He violated that. Twice. He's earned the maximum sentence. He deserves the maximum sentence."
And that's what he got. As a native of Venezuela -- he's a permanent resident of the United States, but not a citizen -- Urquia will likely be deported back to South America when his prison term is up.
Defense attorney Gary Asteak told the judge she needed to make a distinction between "the sin and the sinner" here, and argued that Urquia was a man with a moral compass, who cracked under pressure of trying to juggle a family and work.
"He wanted to be too much, too soon, too young," Asteak said.
"He wanted to be super dad," Xiomara Mulligan, Urquia's mother, wrote in a letter read by Asteak. She said she asked Children & Youth and mental health agencies for help, and told her son to get a babysitter. He didn't listen.
Now she's struggling with the knowledge that her son killed her granddaughter, and thinking back to when he was the baby the doctors had to revive.
"I ask God every day," Mulligan said, "why he allowed him to live if all this was going to happen."