Laura Smith

The Lafayette woman who failed to stop her boyfriend from beating her 3-year-old son for months before he died pleaded guilty Monday to cruelty in the death of Julian Madera.

Julian’s mother, Laura D. Smith, 24, pleaded guilty before 15th District Judge Glennon Everett to one count of cruelty to a juvenile. Jury selection in Smith’s trial was to start Monday.

Smith’s attorney, Randal McCann, said Everett ordered a presentencing report and would sentence Smith later this year.

According to Louisiana sentencing laws, the cruelty conviction carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison at hard labor. It’s possible Smith’s sentence will be less severe in exchange for her cooperation in the death-penalty prosecution of her former boyfriend, Landon Broussard.

Broussard is being housed at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola while his death penalty winds through the system. Broussard also has been charged with the aggravated rape of Julian.

On Nov. 29, 2012, Broussard carried Julian’s lifeless, naked body into his grandmother’s Kaliste Saloom Road home, where he lived with Smith and others.

Detectives said in affidavits that it appeared Julian suffered prolonged beatings: His eyes were swollen shut, one of his ears was torn and his body was covered with bruises suffered at different times. Broussard said a door fell on Julian, a claim detectives said was implausible.

Paramedics were unable to resuscitate the boy. In March 2013, a grand jury charged Broussard with first-degree murder.

In June, Broussard was charged with aggravated rape after an examination of Julian’s body provided a sexual DNA link with Broussard, according to court records.

On the same day Broussard was charged with murder — March 27, 2013 — the grand jury charged Smith with criminal neglect in Julian’s death.

Smith was charged for allegedly failing to get help for Julian during the months he was abused.

After her son’s death, Smith answered tearfully at a hearing with 15th Judicial District Court Commissioner Thomas Frederick.

“Hold on Mrs. Smith,” Frederick said. “It’s too late to cry.”

Smith remains locked up in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center awaiting a prison sentence.