Wife accused of killing husband with pot of hot grease in 1970 appears in court

Mary Ann Rivera appeared before a judge Friday morning.

October 21, 2011 2:22:30 PM PDT
An unusual sight in a downtown courtroom Friday -- an elderly woman in a wheelchair, handcuffed and accused of murder. Police say she killed her husband with a pot of hot grease 40 years ago.

This has been the oldest cold case in the district attorney's office files. Prosecutors say Mary Ann Rivera, 76, now admits to her harming her husband and skipping town. Prosecutors say she has been on the run from police for four decades.

Assistant District Attorney Tina Ansari said, "It's very uncommon to have a case that's 40 years old, but there's always a first time for any case."

Rivera is said to be in poor health these days. She was connected to an oxygen tank as she appeared in a Harris County courtroom on murder charges Friday morning. The woman's accused of killing her husband Cruz after a fight at their Houston area home back in 1970.

"The defendant was angry at her husband," Ansari asserted. "They got into an argument in the kitchen and she took a grease pan and threw grease all over her husband."

Rivera's husband suffered severe burns from that hot grease and died three days after the alleged attack. The woman was initially arrested but posted bond and ran off with her kids. The DA's office's cold case team recently tracked down Rivera in Georgia.

"She didn't seem as if she was trying to conceal anything about her guilt," Ansari said. "She admitted it, voluntarily and free willing."

Now Rivera is back in custody. The public defender representing her declined commenting at this time, only saying the 41-year-old murder case is complicated.

Rivera faces between 5 and 99 years in prison if she's convicted.

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