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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Trial scheduled in manslaughter case

  • A trial date has been set for a woman who was convicted in 2010 of involuntary manslaughter but recently granted a new trial.
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  • A trial date has been set for a woman who was convicted in 2010 of involuntary manslaughter but recently granted a new trial.
    The trial for Monica F. Rivera, 31, is scheduled for April 15 in Leavenworth County District Court.
    The date was selected as Rivera appeared in court Friday.
    Rivera was convicted in August 2010 of involuntary manslaughter and endangering a child. She later was sentenced to 41 months in prison.
    The charges were connected to the death of Rivera's 4-year-old son, Gabriel. He reportedly died in 2009 from blunt force trauma after he was left in the care of Rivera's fiancé, Jason L. Jones. The incident occurred in Leavenworth.
    Jones was sentenced in 2010 to more than 38 years in prison for the second-degree murder of the boy.
    During Rivera's 2010 trial, the prosecution argued Jones had abused the boy prior to his death. And Rivera had endangered her son by leaving him in Jones' care.
    The defense argued Rivera had never seen Jones abuse her son. And at least some of the injuries the boy suffered prior to his death resulted from accidents.
    In December, the Kansas Court of Appeals released a decision ordering a new trial in Rivera's case. The judges of the Court of Appeals found that errors had been made in instructions provided to jurors during the 2010 trial.
    In court Friday, Rivera requested a court-appointed attorney. District Judge Gunnar Sundby appointed Elaine Halley to represent the defendant.
    Sundby said Halley would be familiar with the case. Halley previously represented Rivera in the case. Rivera had a different attorney during her appeal.
    A March 21 hearing was scheduled for pretrial motions in the case.
    Rivera had been serving her sentence in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections. But she was transferred to the custody of the Leavenworth County Jail as a result of her case being remanded to the District Court level.
    Halley asked Friday to address the issue of bond.
    "We are requesting an OR bond," she said.
    This type of bond allows a defendant to be released on his or her own recognizance.
    Halley said her client is indigent and already served 2.5 years of a prison sentence. Rivera had been in minimum custody.
    The attorney said Rivera has strong family support.
    Family members of the defendant were in the courtroom Friday.
    Assistant County Attorney Cheryl Marquardt said the prosecution didn't have a position on the amount at which the bond should be set. But she said an OR bond was not appropriate.
    Sundby said he was convinced to reduce bond in the case. He set bond at $100,000 without a requirement of supervision. He also set a $20,000 bond with a supervision requirement.
    Page 2 of 2 - The judge said the bond amounts were high because of the severity level of the charges.
    "It is a significant case," he said.
    Sheriff Andy Dedeke later said Rivera had posted bond Friday using a bond agency.
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