A 29-year-old California woman was ordered to stand trial on murder charges after prosecutors played an audio recording of her admitting to drowning her 21-month old son, KNSD-TV reported.
The suspect, Veronica Rivas, was allegedly unaware that she was being recorded when she told Oceanside Police Officer Anthony Flores that she killed the boy, Elijah Rivas, last September in order to protect him from sexual abuse by his father.
“I killed my baby, Anthony,” she told Flores. “Why? Because the law does not protect unless you have evidence. What am I supposed to do? Watch him the rest of my life?”
Rivas pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and assault on a child resulting in death. It is unclear whether police have investigated Rivas’ accusations against the boy’s father.
The suspect’s mother testified that she found the boy laying dead on his bed. Rivas was found unconscious in a separate part of their home, after attempting to kill herself. Prosecutors said Rivas consumed alcohol with Tylenol before killing her son.
Detective Marilyn Johnson testified that Rivas failed to drown the boy twice before succeeding.
“After laying on a bed for a short time, they went back into the bathroom,” Johnson told the court. “This time, she said she got into the water and laid Elijah on her chest.”
Rivas’ mother also testified that the suspect was “stressed” after receiving documents from the boy’s father seeking to gain custody of him. Police said the custody fight had caused Rivas to suffer from depression.
If convicted, Rivas could serve anywhere from 25 years to life in prison. She is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 24.
Watch KNSD’s report, as aired on Tuesday, below.