Womans says scalded child climbed into bathtub himself

By By Johnathan Manning / American Press

A woman accused of purposely burning her foster son’s feet in scalding water told authorities during a taped interview that

the boy climbed into the water himself while she was tending to another foster child.

Lan Huylh Le, 29, is standing trial in 14th Judicial District Court on one count of second-degree cruelty to juveniles. She

chose a bench trial before Judge Ron Ware rather than a jury trial.

Authorities allege that Le burned both of the 2-year-old boy’s feet in water on Sept. 15, 2011.

During an interview with Calcasieu Parish sheriff’s detectives that exceeded two hours Le said the boy had turned on the water

and climbed in himself. The interview was played in court Tuesday afternoon.

Detectives Elizabeth Zaunbrecher and Michael Primeaux told Le that if the boy had climbed in himself, his burns would not

have been so uniform and he would have had burn marks where water would have splashed on him.

The boy’s wounds looked like “socks,”

covering his feet and reaching about the same height on both legs, EMT

Jared Terry testified.

The skin was already falling off his feet, Terry said.

Le was a college senior planning on becoming a pediatrician, she told detectives. She and her boyfriend became foster parents

in March 2011, she said.

After the 2-year-old’s afternoon nap,

she went upstairs to give him a bath, she said. Only a small amount of

cold water had

run when the younger foster child began crying downstairs, she

said. She turned off the water to check on the child, she said.

“Let’s go downstairs,” she said she

told the older boy, but he did not follow, she said. She was carrying

the younger child

toward the kitchen when she heard the 2-year-old screaming and ran

upstairs, she said. When she reached him, the nozzle was

turned all the way to hot. She turned off the water and pulled the

plug, she said.

She put him on the bed in a blanket and attempted to put aloe on his burns, she said. She panicked and called her boyfriend,

who told her to call 911, she said.

Zaunbrecher told Le her story “doesn’t

add up.” The detective questioned how the bath had filled with enough

hot water to

burn the boy in the less than five minutes she was downstairs.

Primeaux, who said the water was 144 degrees, questioned whether

the boy could have crawled over the 14-inch-high edge of the tub.

The boy did not have one splash mark on him, Zaunbrecher said.

“He would have splatter marks all over his legs,” Primeaux said.

Zaunbrecher also questioned why she wasn’t upset.

“What do you want me to do, go hysterical?” Le said.

Le maintained the boy had turned on the water and crawled in himself. “This is the story, ma’am,” she said.

“That may be a story, but it’s not what happened,” Zaunbrecher said.

Zaunbrecher said the child also had bruises inside and outside his ear, on his forehead, under his armpit and on his testicles.

The marks under his armpit were mosquito bites, Le said, but Zaunbrecher said all the bruises were from pinching.

Le denied pinching him.

Terry, the first responder, and Christina Phillips, a social worker, both testified that Le said she had halted the bath to

check on the younger boy and that she returned upstairs to find the 2-year-old standing in the water screaming.

The child appeared to be in shock, Terry said.