Woman gets nearly 27 years in son’s death

/ Source: The Associated Press

A woman was sentenced Monday to nearly 27 years in prison for the death of her 2-year-old son, who suffered broken legs, skull fractures, bruises and burns while in her care.

Maribel Gomez was convicted last month of homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter in the September 2003 death of young Rafael Gomez.

The boy had spent 14 months in foster care but suffered “a constellation of injuries” during his short time in his mother’s care, Grant County Superior Court Judge John Antosz said.

Gomez testified that the boy died after hitting his head while throwing a tantrum over food. Medical experts called by the prosecution, however, concluded the boy died of blunt trauma to the head that could not have been caused in such a manner.

Defense lawyer Robert A. Moser of Moses Lake has said he would appeal the conviction.

He did not return a call for comment Monday morning.

The case led to a review of state child welfare agencies and changes in the way decisions are made to return foster children to their biological parents.

The state Department of Social and Health Services conducted a fatality review that concluded social workers were biased toward the birth parents, ignored obvious signs that Rafael was in danger and failed to follow the agency’s own rules.

Because Gomez, who is from Mexico, is in this country illegally, she faces deportation after her prison term ends.