WORCESTER (CBS/AP) – A man charged with beating his 7-year-old son to death on Father’s Day in 2009 pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder.
Leslie Schuler, 41, was charged with first-degree murder. His trial was set to begin Tuesday in Worcester Superior Court.
Prosecutors say Schuler beat Nathaniel Turner on June 21, 2009. The boy died two days later.
An autopsy determined he suffered blunt force trauma to the head and torso.
The boy lived with his grandmother in Eufaula, Alabama, but was spending the summer with his father.
Schuler had abused the boy for weeks after he arrived in Worcester when he felt the boy was being disrespectful, prosecutors said.
The trial had been delayed because of the unavailability of a defense expert who says the boy had been abused before arriving in Massachusetts.
Schuler’s lawyer, Alan Black, told a judge he expected conflicting testimony during the trial about the age of certain injuries suffered by Nathaniel.
Schuler’s fiancee at the time of the boy’s death is awaiting trial in the case.
Tiffany Hyman faces several charges including permitting an assault and battery on a child causing substantial injury. She has pleaded not guilty, and her lawyer has said she played no role in the boy’s abuse.
By pleading guilty to second-murder, Schuler faces a life sentence with the possibility of parole in 15 years.
A first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no parole.
Schuler will be sentenced Thursday afternoon.
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