The uncle of a 21-month-old boy who died at a Phoenix home in 2012 has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the toddler's death.
Court officials said Manuel Antonio Gonzales made his plea Friday morning.
Larry Nunez with the Phoenix Fire Department said police were told the child, Xavier Becerra Martinez, was playing with a water hose along with other kids in the yard near 71st Avenue and Lower Buckeye.
Firefighters thought there was something suspicious and called police.
Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said Xavier was in the care of Gonzales. Gonzales' two sons were also at the home. Gonzales' common-law wife Brenda Becerra-Rodriguez is the sister of Xavier's mother.
A neighbor called 911 and said the Gonzales was very upset and ran the child next door to get help.
"He was crying. He was like he didn't know what to do and he had the baby in his hands and like he fell down. He didn't fall down, but he went down on his knees and he was telling the firefighters to help him," said Gaby Ramos.
According to officials, Gonzales said the child was playing with a hose and drowned in a puddle of water. However, Thompson said injuries observed on the child and further injuries diagnosed at the hospital did not match this story. They were consistent with child abuse, he said.
According to the police report, there was wet clothing soiled with vomit on the washing machine inside the home underneath some other clothing and there was also a bloody towel found in Gonzales' bedroom. He told police he didn't know about those items and did not place them there.
Xavier died at the hospital.
Gonzalez is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 9.
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