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Spokane man found not guilty in assault of 2-year-old girl due to lack of evidence

UPDATED: Thu., April 11, 2019

Cedric Burton enters the courtroom  Thursday, April 11, 2019, before he was declared not guilty of second-degree child assault by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Julie McKay. (Will Campbell/The Spokesman-Review)
Cedric Burton enters the courtroom Thursday, April 11, 2019, before he was declared not guilty of second-degree child assault by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Julie McKay. (Will Campbell/The Spokesman-Review)

A known gang member suspected of assaulting a child under his care in 2016 was found not guilty Thursday, wrapping up a trial that saw testimony from doctors, nurses, a forensic pathologist and the victim, now 5 years old.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Julie McKay ruled there was not enough evidence to prove that Cedric E. Burton assaulted the then-2-year-old girl in 2016.

The most scrutinized evidence in the trial was video surveillance footage from October 2016 of the girl falling face-first out of a van onto concrete while Burton stood beside her. But even that was “grainy in nature,” Judge McKay said.

“It was helpful but not as much as the court would have liked,” she said.

McKay said she still has questions about some of the bruises on the child that weren’t explained by the fall in the video, including those on the victim’s buttocks, chin, neck and behind the ears.

“I can certainly speculate,” McKay said.

McKay said while it’s clear that Burton and the victim’s mother lied to hospital staff and police about their identities and their location at the time of the injuries, there was not enough evidence to say they lied about how the injuries occurred.

The victim reportedly told her foster mother shortly after she was hurt in 2016 that “Daddy hurt me. He pushed me out the van,” but McKay said those statements were not admissible because she was too young and could not speak well enough, so it could not be used as evidence against Burton.

“We represented the facts,” said prosecuting attorney Eugene Cruz. “Once we’ve done that, it’s out of our hands. We respect the decision.”

Ellen Glowen-Leon, great-grandmother of the victim and her sister, said the two girls are doing well now.

She said she was surprised by the verdict.

“If you could see the pictures of that girl when she was injured,” she said. “Praise God that they don’t remember it.”

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