A case dating back two years saw some closure on July 10, with the sentencing of an Escalon man in connection with the death of his girlfriend’s young son.
Joe Anthony Correia received more than 17 years in prison in the sentence handed down by San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Terrence Van Oss. He had pleaded guilty in April in the death of 3-year-old Noah Morgan in July, 2011 but attempted to withdraw that plea when appearing for sentencing. The guilty plea earlier this year came with the guarantee of a lesser sentence than if Correia was convicted by a jury, which potentially could have brought a life sentence.
But the defendant argued Wednesday that he believed his original defense attorney wasn’t ready for trial and didn’t adequately explain terms of the plea agreement before he signed it.
The judge did not grant the motion for the plea withdrawal, despite comments from the Correia’s new attorney that he also felt the defendant did not have a full understanding of the process.
In previous actions in the case, however, Correia told authorities he had disciplined the child – who was reportedly undergoing toilet training at the time – for soiling himself and his clothing.
The 3-year-old was taken to a hospital in Modesto on July 23, 2011 and cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the abdomen. There were also drugs found in his system, according to reports, and Correia was subsequently arrested in connection with the death and booked into San Joaquin County Jail.
After denying the motion to withdraw the plea, Van Oss handed down a sentence of 17 years, four months in state prison, for Correia’s plea to child abuse with enhancements, resulting in the death of the youngster.