Florida mom faces death penalty for 'drowning' autistic son, 9, in canal, then making up fake kidnapping story
MIAMI, FLORIDA: A Florida mother, who has been accused of drowning her autistic son, 9, in a canal and then making up a fake kidnapping story, could be facing the death penalty after being indicted for first-degree murder. A Miami Dade jury this week returned an indictment against the mother Patricia Ripley, 45, which came from the drowning death of her son, Alejandro, in May. On Thursday morning, October 29, the court hearing took place where prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty against Patricia.
As per Florida law, only someone who has been indicted by a grand jury can receive the death penalty. According to the Miami Herald, Ripley is currently charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, aggravated child abuse and filing a false police report.
Back in June, she pleaded not guilty to those counts. The authorities revealed that Ripley had claimed that she was ambushed in Miami on the evening of May 21 by two Black men. The mother also claimed that the attackers had demanded drugs and had taken her cellphone, tablet and son before fleeing which led to an Amber Alert in Miami. Officers responded to the scene along the 15750 block of Southwest 88th Street around 9 pm on May 21. A store employee told WSVN that he heard the abductors allegedly crashing into the mother's car before taking off with the child.
The child’s body had been pulled out of a canal at the Miccosukee Golf and Country Club the next morning as police interrogated the woman. An arrest affidavit stated that she had provided "conflicting statements" and was confronted with testimonies of witnesses and a video footage of two attempts to drown her child. As per footage that was obtained by Univision shows the mother and child walking, while Ripley strokes his head. She then seems to shove him into a canal at the Kendall Acres Condominium complex. She then proceeds to run out of the screen before returning with neighbors who heard yelling and saved the boy.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said that Ripley had driven her son at the other canal at the golf club, an hour later. Fernandez Rundle said, “Unfortunately, when she took him to the second canal, and there was no one there. She tried it once, and people rescued him. He was alive. He could have stayed alive. She intended, from all the facts of the case, to kill him.” The prosecutor had noted that the child was non-verbal, he could not have told his initial rescuers what had happened with his mother. “He can't say anything to his rescuers. We talk about children being voiceless. This is another level of voicelessness. He was incapable of saying that ‘mommy put me in the water’,” the prosecutor added.
We had earlier reported that around two dozen people had shown up for a memorial service on Friday, May 22, for Alejandro. The memorial had taken place outside The Friendship Circle of Miami - a center for children with special needs that the boy attended prior to the coronavirus lockdown, WPLG-TV reported.