Austin woman arrested for throwing hot water on child

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by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News

khou.com

Posted on December 27, 2012 at 12:04 AM

AUSTIN --  A woman has been charged with injury to a child after throwing scalding water on the three-year-old's face.

Investigators say Kelli Garza-Rodriguez, 24, injured the boy while babysitting him.

According to an arrest affidavit, the incident happened on Sept. 11, when Garza-Rodriguez was babysitting four of her girlfriend's children at the Lakeview Apartments on Lakeshore Drive in Austin.

Garza-Rodriguez and her girlfriend have moved out, but their neighbor Daniel Liverman was appalled when he heard what happened.

"Well I think it's terribly tragic," said Liverman. "I think that's not a way to treat a child."

According to her arrest affidavit, Rodriguez said she poured the hot water on the boy because he urinated on the floor. She told police she was angry and that the toddler "knew better."

"I don't think there's anything worse that I can think of," Dr. Mark Tabarrok with Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Dell Children's Hospital said.

He said the average household water heater reaches 120 degrees. In this case, investigators said the water caused second and third degree burns on the boy.

"That's pain, number one. Number two, scarring, dehydration, scarring," Dr. Tabarrok said.

Austin police said Rodriguez tried to lie about the injuries at first. Investigators tested the family's faucet and took temperature readings -- that's when they found out Rodriguez wasn't telling the truth.

According to police, she admitted she grabbed a glass, filled it up with hot water halfway and then threw it in the child's face.

"Then begins the hard road. The long road, healing, skin grafts, especially of the face," Dr. Tabarrok said. "They're gonna continue to have this scar that grows with them, along with the stigma that comes with having a burn injury."

Dr. Tabarrok and Daniel Liverman said they know what it's like dealing with a young child, and know they can sometimes be frustrating.

"Step away, cool off, count to 10," Dr. Tabarrok said. "If you ever get to that point, just step away."

"Love your children, understand they're gonna be a handful. After all they're growing up and trying to be little adults," Liverman said.

Kelli Garza-Rodriguez is charged with injury to a child, which is a third degree felony. If convicted she faces two to 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Her bond is set at $20,000.

The child's mother was not at home when the incident occurred and has not been charged.

Police said the toddler is expected to be okay.

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