As her mother took her clothes off for strangers this past February, little Kaleenah Muldrow, 2, succumbed to the ruthless flames that ripped through her Bedford-Stuyvesant home.
On Friday (October 21), the woman who birthed the late child, Leila Aquino, was granted mercy by a New York City judge and given three years of probation, so says the New York Daily News.
The 21-year-old stripper faced charges of reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child after she allegedly left Kaleenah home alone earlier this year to take a shift at the Queens establishment, CityScapes Gentleman’s Club. While Aquino was gone, a fire broke out in the third-floor dwelling of the Monroe St. walk-up where she and Kaleenah resided. When firefighters were able to tame the flames, they discovered the toddler’s lifeless body underneath a bed, where she apparently hid in an attempt to avoid the destruction.
In Brooklyn Supreme Court on Friday, Aquino tearfully relayed to Justice Deborah Dowling just what occurred on that fateful February evening.
“I left my daughter home alone and when I came home,” she explained, “there was a fire and she passed away.”
She also stated that at some time in the past, she had been admitted to a mental hospital for reasons that are not yet known.
“How old was your daughter,” Dowling inquired to the crestfallen Aquino.
“She was two,” the defendant answered.
In lieu of jail time, Aquino was ordered to complete a program with the Women’s Prison Association, an organization that provides alternative punishments to felony offenders who face, at minimum, six months in prison for their crimes.
Along with pleading guilty for the aforementioned child endangerment and reckless endangerment offenses, Aquino was also handed a criminally negligent homicide charge for her actions. Had she gone to trial and been convicted, she would have faced up to four years in prison — just double the amount of time that Kaleenah was alive.
Subsequently, the child’s father, Kason Muldrow, is one of the main reasons why the mother won’t see the inside of a jail cell. An earlier consultation with prosecutor Lisa Nugent allowed the court to hash out a lighter deal for the guilty Aquino, who sources say initially lied about her whereabouts on February 23, the night Kaleenah died.
Eyewitness News reports that following her arrest, Aquino told investigators that she had left Kaleenah in the care of a babysitter while she went out for drinks with friends. However, the sitter in question admitted that she had quit working for the adult entertainer earlier that month when she wasn’t properly paid for her services.
Aquino apparently then told law enforcement that she wasn’t sure just who she left her child with that night, and that she feared her daughter might be missing. Once that lie was unraveled as well, it was discovered that Aquino had departed the residence the night before and didn’t return home until 9:30 a.m. the following morning, more than two hours after Kaleenah’s body was removed from the residence.
Following Kaleenah’s untimely death, relatives remembered her as being someone who her mother seemed to dote on incessantly.
“She used to take [good] care of her,” Kaleenah’s paternal great-grandmother, Jean Archibald, said of Aquino. “I’ve never heard of her doing anything like this. I guess people change.”
Kason Muldrow, who once lived in the tenement with Aquino and her daughter, and is the son of the building’s owner, was just as understandably heartbroken at the time.
“I’m just at a loss for words right now,” he remarked. “There’s really nothing [else] I can say.”
Following her sentence with the Women’s Prison Association, Aquino will begin her three-year probationary period. She is set for release from the organization in July 2017.
[Featured Image by azerberber/iStock]