Mother of boy found dead on Galveston beach in 2017 gets life in prison

GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- The mother of a 4-year-old boy whose body was found on a beach in Galveston a little over three years ago has been sentenced to life in prison, authorities announced on Thursday.

According to a news release issued by the Galveston County Criminal District Attorney's Office, 37-year-old Rebecca Suzanne Rivera, the mother of Jayden Alexander Lopez, who was nicknamed "Little Jacob", was convicted of injury to a child by omission causing serious bodily injury after a 7-day trial that ended on Thursday.

The boy's body was discovered on East Beach in Galveston in October 2017. Trial evidence showed that Rivera and her girlfriend brought Jayden's body to Galveston after he died in Houston.

Rivera and her girlfriend, Dania Amezquita Gomez, reportedly dumped his body in the water off East Beach, where it was discovered a day later.

Officials said Rivera admitted in a pre-trial statement that she hit her child with "anything she could find when she became frustrated" with Gomez.

Gomez, who is also charged with injury to a child, testified against Rivera as part of a plea deal.

Authorities said the boy's body showed evidence of scarring from being beaten with hangers. He also had cigarette burns all over his back, ligature marks on his wrists and ankles, and numerous blunt force trauma injuries.

A doctor with the University of Texas Medical Branch - Pediatrics Division said the boy was also severely malnourished, was emaciated and had pneumonia. Officials said the medical examiner was not able to testify to a specific cause of death.

The case was prosecuted by Chief Assistant District Attorney Matt Shawhan and Assistant District Attorney Dulce Salazar of the Galveston County Criminal District Attorney's Office's Special Victims Unit.

Shawhan told the jury before the announcement of Rivera's punishment, "you can't rehabilitate evil."

"This defendant earned every day of a life sentence," he continued, according to the news release.

Rivera will be eligible for parole after serving 30 years in prison.

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