Friday, October 27, 2000

Teen pleads guilty in baby's death

16-year-old mom sentenced to juvenile detention until she's 21

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — On the day her trial was to begin, a 16-year-old girl pleaded guilty in Butler County Juvenile Court to involuntary manslaughter and two other charges in connection with the death of her 11-week-old daughter.

        Judge David Niehaus sentenced the Hamilton teen Thursday to the state juvenile detention system until her 21st birthday. The Enquirer is not naming her because she is a juvenile.

        In meting out the maximum punishment, the judge ordered that she receive treatment and counseling while she's in a state detention facility.

    The baby girl's 21-year-old father, Ramon Gomez Silva, was responsible for most of the baby's multiple injuries, prosecutors said. The 11-week-old died June 12.
    A Butler County Common Pleas jury convicted Mr. Gomez last Friday of murder, involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault and child endangering. He will be sentenced Oct. 30.
        The teen's daughter, Maria Gomez Silva, suffered numerous injuries during her brief life, including a fatal skull fracture that impaired her ability to breathe, 22 rib frac tures, two broken legs, a broken collarbone, two dislocated neck vertebrae and countless bruises.

        Maria died June 12 when life support was removed at Children's Hospital Medical Center. Her mother had taken her to a Hamilton hospital three days earlier because she had stopped breathing.

        The mother admitted to police that she shook the baby and grabbed her by the face to stop her from crying, Assistant Prosecutor Jeffrey Stone said.

        The mother pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault and child endangering. In exchange for her plea, the prosecution dropped two counts of child endangering and one count of permitting child abuse.

        Mr. Stone said dropping the three charges had no effect on the sentence the girl received.

        The girl's attorney, Karan Hor an, said she reviewed the prosecution's evidence with her client Wednesday night, and they concluded it would be best to plead guilty to three charges.

        Ms. Horan said that although the 16-year-old's actions were inexcusable, many others shared blame for the death of Maria.

        The 16-year-old's mother allowed her to have a sexual relationship with Ramon Gomez Silva, the baby's father, and to move in with him at the age of 15, she said.

        “She didn't like it, but she did nothing to stop it,” Ms. Horan said. “She abandoned this child.”

        The 16-year-old was ill equipped to handle the pressures of caring for a baby.

        “She was a child who was thrust into an adult situation with no safety net,” Ms. Horan said.

        The girl never intentionally hurt her baby, she said.

        The 16-year-old declined Judge Niehaus' invitation to speak before he pronounced sentence.

        Ms. Horan said that almost every time she has talked with the girl, she has expressed deep remorse for Maria's death.


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