Defendant sentenced to time served for endangering child
By John Richmeier
A woman whose conviction for involuntary manslaughter was overturned during an appeal has pleaded no contest to an amended charge.
Monica F. Rivera, 31, entered the plea Friday in Leavenworth County District Court to a charge of aggravated endangering a child. The case immediately proceeded to the sentencing phase. She was sentenced to the time she'd already served.
Rivera had spent 28 months in prison while appealing her August 2010 conviction of involuntary manslaughter and endangering a child. She had been serving a 41-month sentence.
She was charged in the case following the death of her 4-year-old son. He reportedly died in 2009 from blunt force trauma after he was left in the care of Rivera's then 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 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.
A new trial in the case had been scheduled for June 24.
Additional misdemeanor charges of possession of a hallucinogenic drug and possession of drug paraphernalia recently had been filed against Rivera in the case. But with her no contest plea to the aggravated endangering a child charge, all other counts were dismissed.
District Judge Gunnar Sundby said Rivera would have qualified for probation for the charge of aggravated endangering a child. But as part of a plea agreement, there was a recommendation that she be sentenced to time served with no probation.
The parties also requested to go forward with sentencing Friday.
Sundby said this was somewhat irregular but an updated pre-sentencing investigation report had been prepared in the case.
Rivera was given the opportunity to speak during the sentencing.
"I don't have anything to say your honor," she said.
Sundby acknowledged that Rivera had lost her son. But the judge said she had some involvement in what happened by leaving the boy with Jones.
The judge said the resolution reached in the case was appropriate and the sentencing recommendations were sound.
Page 2 of 2 - Sundby sentenced Rivera to a standard sentence of eight months, noting she'd already served 28 months.
"So therefore the sentence already has been served," he said.
Rivera will have to pay required court fees. The judge waived some fees.