Grandmother Pleads Guilty to Concealing Evidence in Torture Death of 3-Year-Old Oxnard Girl
An Oxnard grandmother admitted on Thursday that she helped her daughter and daughter’s boyfriend cover up the killing of the couple’s 3-year-old daughter, prosecutors said.
Maria De Jesus Lopez, 45, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to destroy and conceal evidence in the death of Kimberly Lopez, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
The girl died in June 2015 after suffering severe abuse from her mother, 27-year-old Mayra Alejandra Chavez, who was convicted of torture and assault resulting in Kimberly’s death last December.
The child’s father, 34-year-old Omar Misael Lopez, pleaded guilty to child endangerment and perjury after cutting a deal with prosecutors, who dropped his second-degree murder charge.
Chavez had lost custody of her daughter at birth because Kimberly tested positive for both methamphetamine and marijuana. The mother regained custody nine months later after completing substance abuse and parenting classes, but lost it again because she was abusing the girl, officials said.
Kimberly was put into foster care, but Chavez was allowed supervised visits with Omar. The mother continued to torture and mistreat the girl, ultimately killing her, prosecutors said.
When Maria learned of her granddaughter’s death, she lent the couple her car and gave them money so that they could take Kimberly’s body to Tijuana and destroy her remains, according to the DA’s office.
The girl’s body was never recovered.
Over the next 15 months, as officials grew increasingly suspicious regarding Kimberly’s whereabouts, Maria also allegedly helped conceal the death from investigators.
The grandmother is scheduled to be sentenced on April 23, when she’ll face a maximum penalty of 180 days in county jail and three years of formal probation. She is currently out of custody on $200,000 bail, officials said.