- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

BARTOW, Fla. (AP) - A central Florida man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing his infant stepson.

As part of a deal with Polk County prosecutors to avoid a first-degree murder trial and possible life sentence, Edwin Cruz Vargas pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder. The Ledger (http://goo.gl/lZMv1N ) reports that he was previously sentenced to 5 years for an escape attempt last year.

Authorities say Cruz Vargas was watching 11-month-old Josiah Figueroa in August 2012 when the boy was hospitalized with a broken back. He initially denied doing anything to the boy but later acknowledged that he resorted to “bear hugs,” kissing and bouncing the child to soothe him.

Cruz Vargas maintained that he never intended to hurt his stepson but became overwhelmed by the child’s crying.

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Information from: The Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.), http://www.theledger.com

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