A Valley foster father accused of severely injuring a 15-month-old girl in October has reversed course and pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse.
Pedro Manzo, 36, changed his November plea of not guilty during a hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court on Thursday morning.
He is scheduled to be sentenced April 2 by Judge Jeanne Garcia.
A probable cause complaint revealed the injured girl "kept throwing her sippie cup" so Manzo admitted he "grabbed under her jaw, shook her in a side-to-side motion and applied pressure to her jaw and throat that caused her to pass out."
"Her neck is fractured. She has blood clots," said Rosa Valle, the girl's biological mother, on Oct. 30, two days after the incident. Valle showed pictures of her daughter in a neck brace at the hospital.
Valle said her 15-month-old daughter and 3-year-old son had been abused previously by Manzo, who is their foster father.
Goodyear police arrested Manzo on Oct. 29 and charged him with child abuse. Though Child Protective Services was not able to comment on the case, Valle provided documents that show Manzo is the foster father of the two children.
"(Manzo) is in jail, and I think he deserves to be in there," said Valle.
Manzo was released from custody just nine hours after being arrested for child abuse.
Valle said she notified CPS on several occasions that she suspected abuse in the home, but said her concerns were not addressed.
"My kid tells me, 'Mommy, mommy Peter (Manzo) hit me. Peter hits me, mommy. Peter don't let me eat,'" Valle said.
"It's a very rigorous process. We ask our (foster family) applicants to go through," said Mary Bankoff, with the Arizona Department of Economic Security, which oversees Child Protective Services.
Bankoff said it is a three- to six-month process to get approved as a foster family. There are roughly 5,000 approved foster families in the state.
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