Rogers Babysitter Pleads Not Guilty To Manslaughter

BENTONVILLE (KFSM) — A Rogers woman has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter after an infant under her care died in October.

Melissa Garcia-Rivera was arraigned Thursday (Dec. 7) on one count of manslaughter, a Class C felony.

Class C felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000, according to Arkansas Code Annotated 5-10-104.

Garcia-Rivera, 21, said she found the 8-month-old girl unresponsive about 8 a.m. on Oct. 10 and drove her to Mercy Hospital.

Medical staff said the girl had a 100.5-degree temperature and was soaked in sweat.

Initially, Garcia-Rivera told Rogers police the infant was fussy so she fed her some breast milk and laid her down for a nap around noon.

Later, Garcia-Rivera changed her story and said she was frustrated with the child and put pillows and a blanket on her so she couldn’t push off her stomach, according to an arrest report.

Garcia-Rivera said she left the girl like that for about an hour. She said the girl wasn’t breathing when she went back to check on her.

Police later found the two pillows and blanket weighed more than seven pounds.

Garcia-Rivera again changed her story and told police she wasn’t frustrated with the child and didn’t intend to kill her. She said she put a blanket on the girl but left her on her side.

Garcia-Rivera told investigators she was afraid of talking to police because she was trying to get her citizenship and didn’t want to go to jail or have her children taken away. Garcia-Rivera’s fiancée told police she babysits up to six kids during the day.

An autopsy at the Medical Examiner’s office revealed no trauma to the child.

The examiner also said the child showed no signs of disease or defect that would have led to death, according to the affidavit.

Garcia-Rivera was being held Thursday at the Benton County Jail on a $50,000 bond set.