An Oxnard grandmother who helped her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend dispose the body of the couple’s 3-year-old daughter was sentenced Tuesday, officials said.
Maria De Jesus Lopez, 45, was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 36 months formal probation, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office said. She pleaded guilty last month to one felony count of conspiracy to destroy and conceal evidence.
Prosecutors said after learning her granddaughter was killed, Lopez lent her daughter Mayra Chavez and the little girl’s father, Omar Misael Lopez, her car and money so they could get rid of Kimberly’s body in Tijuana, Mexico. She also concealed the little girl’s death from investigators, officials said.
Prosecutors said Kimberly died in June 2015 as the result of child abuse inflicted on her by the hands of her 27-year-old mother.
Chavez lost custody of Kimberly when she was born because authorities said the baby tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana. She regained custody of Kimberly nine months later after completing substance abuse and parenting classes, but lost it again after she started abusing her little girl, authorities said.
Kimberly was placed in foster care, but Chavez was granted supervised visits with 34-year-old Omar present. Authorities said Chavez’s abuse and torture on the little girl continued and ultimately resulted in her death.
Police launched an investigation into Kimberly’s whereabouts in September 2016 after social workers reported they had not been able to locate her for over a year.
Omar pled guilty to a lesser charge of felony child endangerment in exchange for testifying in Chavez’s trial. He provided jurors with a detailed account of Chavez’s abusive treatment of their daughter. He said the fatal abuse happened when Chavez pulled Kimberly’s legs from underneath her to change her diaper, causing the toddler to hit her head and suffer seizures, the Ventura County Star reported at the time of Chavez’s trial.
She was convicted of torture and murder in December 2018 and faces 47 years to life in state prison when she is sentenced.
Maria De Jesus Lopez was ordered by a judge to not have any contact with her daughter and is not allowed to associate with any children under the age of 18, unless a responsible adult approved by a probation officer is present.
Kimberly’s body was never found.