- Associated Press - Friday, September 25, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - An Oregon man pleaded guilty Friday to killing his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son last year by throwing him headfirst against a toilet.

Under the terms of a plea deal, Joshua Howard, 30, will be sentenced to 17 years in state prison for manslaughter and three years for criminal mistreatment. The toddler’s parents were not in court Friday, but were expected to speak at the Oct. 30 sentencing.

Coltin Salsbury died in a hospital March 6, 2014, two days after he was injured at the Unicorn Motel in southeast Portland, where he lived with Howard and his mother, Wendy Salsbury, who was not home during the incident.

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Howard told detectives he threw the 30-pound boy into the front rim of the toilet because he was angry that the child vomited on a bed. Coltin had already vomited on the bed once that day, Howard said, and now he was going to have to pay more money to do laundry, according to court documents.

“I got mad and threw him into the bathroom by his shirt, and he bashed his head on the toilet,” Howard later wrote in a letter to the boy’s mother. “Now I have been taken to jail and I deserve nothing less than the maximum punishment for hurting that innocent little guy.”

Wendy Salsbury told investigators that Howard spanked Coltin daily, according to court documents. When she told him not to be so rough, Howard said she was turning the boy into a sissy.

Howard mentioned during an interview with a Portland police detective that he was an experienced cage fighter and his hands were registered weapons. He said he could kill the detective simply by hitting him hard, prosecutor Charles Mickley wrote in a court filing.

An attorney representing Coltin’s estate has filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Human Services and the Seaside Police Department, alleging child welfare workers and a police officer were aware of abuse and failed to do enough.

The boy’s father lives in Seaside and had shared custody. The lawsuit says he spoke with an officer Dec. 21, 2013, about bruises on Coltin’s body and expressed concern that Howard was abusive.

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