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Probation deal halted in child blinding case
BELLEVILLE, Ill. -- A prosecutor nearly handed a probation sentence to a Belleville man who blinded his 2-year-old stepdaughter. But a judge refused the deal and set the case for trial after he learned the young victim would never regain sight in her left eye.
Leonard Spencer Jr., 28, of Belleville, faces charges of aggravated battery of a child, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years. He also faces charges for bigamy and credit card misuse.
Spencer's stepdaughter was injured Feb. 9, 2000, when she was hit in the eye with a set of keys. Spencer initally told police his other daughter, who was 4 years old at the time, threw the keys. He later confessed to police that he threw the keys himself.
While negotiating a plea agreement, prosecutor Elizabeth Nester consented to reduce the charge so Spencer could spend 2 1/2 years on probation with the conditions he stay away from the victim and submit to psychological counseling.
But St. Clair County Circuit Judge James Donovan told Judy Dalan, who filled in for Nester at Monday's hearing, that he could not abide by the plea agreement terms.
"I can accept the guilty plea, but I cannot comply with the terms the defense and prosecutor negotiated," Donovan said.
He set the trial for Jan. 22.