Madras man gets 12 years for assaulting toddler

Boy, now 4, was in courtroom in a wheelchair

MADRAS, Ore. - A 22-year-old Madras man was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison for severely assaulting his girlfriend's 2-year-old son in November 2017 but declined to make a statement before the packed courtroom, including the boy and his mother.

Josue Mendoza-Melo avoided a trial by pleading no contest in Jefferson County Circuit Court to felony charges of attempted aggravated murder and first-degree criminal mistreatment.

The child, Ezra Thomas, was unresponsive when he was brought to St Charles Madras. He was later flown by air ambulance to a Portland hospital where he underwent surgery to remove a part of his skull to relieve pressure due to swelling of his brain.

Dozens of family members and supporters were in the courtroom for Thursday's sentencing — as was Ezra, now 4, in a wheelchair with a breathing tube, now requiring 24/7 care.

Mendoza-Melo first told authorities the child tripped, then that he fell, but later said he was shaking the boy back and forth, the back of his head hitting the floor.

He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial Oct. 28 on nearly a dozen sexual abuse charges in an unrelated case filed in April, involving allegations from 2010 and 2015.

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