The mother of a 4-year-old boy who was found dead on an island beach was sentenced to life in prison Thursday.
A jury sentenced Houston resident Rebecca Rivera, 37, to life in prison after finding her guilty of injury to a child by omission causing serious bodily injury, according to the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office.
Rivera was the mother of Jayden Lopez, a young boy whose lifeless body was found on East Beach in October 2017. Before he was identified, Lopez was called “Little Jacob” by the Galveston Police Department, which launched an intensive search to identify the boy and his family.
Rivera and her girlfriend, Dania Sarai Amezquita Gomez, were arrested in June 2018, after a call to an FBI tip line led investigators to the couple.
Police said Lopez’s body showed evidence of torture, including scarring from beatings, cigarette burns, ligature marks on his wrists and ankles and blunt force trauma injuries. He also was malnourished and showed signs of pneumonia, prosecutors said.
Medical examiners couldn’t determine a cause of death, prosecutors said. Lopez died in Houston, and Rivera and Amezquita Gomez brought his body to the seawall beach across from Eighth Street, prosecutors said. His body was found by a passerby on Oct. 20.
Amezquita Gomez testified against Rivera as part of a plea deal, according to prosecutors. She told the jury that Rivera would hit Lopez when she became frustrated with the child, prosecutors said.
Amezquita Gomez is scheduled to appear in a plea hearing on Feb. 11, according to court documents.
Prosecutors called Rivera “evil.” The jury returned a life sentence verdict in less than an hour, prosecutors said. Rivera will be eligible for parole after 30 years.
Rivera already has filed a motion to appeal the verdict against her, according to court records.