New York (AFP) - A New York father was jailed for 20 years to life Thursday for lacing his children's pizza with rat poison, killing his five-year-old son and making his seven-year-old daughter sick.
Prosecutors said Leonardo Espinal, 49, carried out the callous crime in November 2012 to get back at his ex-wife after discovering that she was seeing another man.
Espinal wrote a suicide note and fed poisoned pizza to the children at an apartment in the Bronx, eating some as well.
His daughter Mia vomited, but Espinal locked himself in the bathroom with five-year-old Steward and refused to come out.
Espinal's stepmother called 911 and police broke down the door but it was too late. Steward was found dead in the bath tub from a combination of poison and being submerged in water, officials said.
Rosaura Abreu, who had kicked her former husband out of the family apartment, told the court how she and her daughter had been left distraught and devastated by the murder.
She said her son had been "radiant" when she last saw him.
"When it was time for me to leave he followed me to the door and I knelt down to talk with him. It's as if my heart knew that it would be the last time I would see him alive," she said.
Abreu said they had been forced to move after Mia suffered anxiety attacks at the thought of returning to the apartment where she lived with her little brother.
"Mia will have to live for the rest of her life with the horrific memory that her own father caused in attempting to kill her," she said.
"Although therapy helped the both of us, Mia and I suffer every day the absence of our boy in our daily lives."
Espinal pleaded guilty last month to murder in the second degree and attempted murder in the second degree.
He was sentenced by Supreme Court Justice Troy Webber on Thursday, the Bronx district attorney's office said.