Charges dropped against woman accused of killing husband

Mary Ann Rivera appeared before a judge Friday morning.

November 4, 2011 6:39:35 PM PDT
Forty-one years after being charged in the murder of her husband, an elderly Houston woman is free.

The judge has dropped charges against Mary Ann Rivera. The 76-year-old was accused of throwing hot grease on her husband in 1970. He died from the severe burns.

Prosecutors say Rivera went on the run with her three children for more than four decades until she was arrested last month. Her lawyer says she was not charged with a crime before she moved to Georgia and authorities denied her her Constitutional right to a speedy trial by not alerting her of the charges sooner.

"Even though she had lived in different locations, she was living in her name," said Jules Johnson. "Not trying to hide from anybody, and so, because of that, the judge ruled in our favor."

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 last month.

"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."

The state can file an appeal. We don't know if they plan to do so.

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