Woman pleads not guilty in manslaughter case


BENTONVILLE - A Rogers babysitter pleaded not guilty to a manslaughter charge she faces in death of an 8-month-old girl she was watching.

Melissa Garcia-Rivera, 21, appeared in court Thursday and entered a not guilty plea to the felony charge.

Melissa Garcia-Rivera, 21, of Rogers was arrested in connection with manslaughter, a Class C felony punishable with a prison sentence ranging from three to 10 years.

She was arrested Oct. 12.

Garcia-Rivera is accused of recklessly causing the infant's death, according to court documents.

"My client will be vindicated and justice will be served," Garcia-Rivera's attorney Steven Kay said.

Kay declined to make any other comments on the case.

A omnibus hearing is scheduled for 8 a.m. Jan. 29.

The infant was dead when Marco Antonio Garcia, who is engaged to Garcia- Rivera, took her to Mercy Medical Center in Rogers on Oct. 10, according to a probable cause affidavit. Medical staff told police the girl's body had no obvious signs of injuries and the cause of death was unknown, according to the affidavit.

Garcia told police Garcia-Rivera babysits six children, including the 8-month-old, during the day. He said Garcia-Rivera woke him shortly after 1 p.m. Oct. 10 and told him the girl wasn't breathing. Garcia said he attempted CPR on the baby but couldn't get her to breathe. He said his fiancee was so panicked she couldn't call 911, according to the affidavit.

Police interviewed Garcia-Rivera, who said she was frustrated with the infant but didn't intentionally hurt her.

Garcia-Rivera said she placed the baby on her back in a toddler bed with a fleece type blanket on top of her at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 10, according to the affidavit. She said the baby was fussy and didn't want to go to sleep. She turned the girl over on her stomach and the baby tried to push herself up with her arms. Garcia said she placed one pillow on the fleece blanket to prevent the child from pushing up, according to the affidavit.

The child pushed herself up again so Garcia-Rivera said she put a second pillow on the child's back. Garcia-Rivera told police she left the child in that position for an hour and when she went back to check the baby wasn't breathing, according to the affidavit.

Police weighed the blanket and pillows. Police determined 7.66 pounds of weight was on top of the child: blanket weighed 2.49 pounds, the first pillow weighed 2.43 pounds and the second pillow weighed 2.74 pounds, according to the affidavit.

Garcia-Rivera was being held Thursday in the Benton County Jail with a $50,000 bond set.

NW News on 12/08/2017

Log in to comment