A young mother made her first court appearance on Thursday to be charged in the drowning death of her 8-month-old son, Elijah, and to learn her surviving child will remain in protective custody.
Christina DeLeon, 19, appeared in court to face the following three felony charges:
- 2nd-degree manslaughter
- Child neglect
- Methamphetamine-related crime involving children
DeLeon, who also goes by the name Gulianna Sophia Rivera, could face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and up to $40,000 in fines if convicted on all charges.
In interviews with death investigators, DeLeon explained she giving her two sons a bath just before 5 p..m. when her eldest, who is autistic, began acting up. His behavior led her to remove the older boy from the tub and dry him off first instead of removing Elijah beforehand as she normally would.
DeLeon admitted leaving Elijah unattended in his bath seat, which did not have straps or a safety system, for a few minutes. The boys' grandmother told police she had often warned her daughter not to leave the boys unattended in the bath several times before.
By the time she dried off her 18-month-old son, placed him in the play area, got him a bottle of milk and returned to the bathroom, she found Elijah on his side, outside his bath seat in 6 inches of water. She told deputies she believed the boy must have hit his head, but admitted she had not seen him do so.
When DeLeon found the victim, she rushed in, brought him to the bedroom across the hall and began to perform CPR. She said she saw his toes wiggle during that process, and moved him to the living room with him, stopping in the hallway to try CPR too.
When she got to the living room with the boy, she was finally able to locate and use her cell phone; however, she said she didn't know what she was doing and called several numbers, including her mother's, before calling 911.
DeLeon gave consent for law enforcement officers to look through her phone, and logs indicate that it took her 17 minutes to call 911 from the time she began calling others.
Preliminary autopsy reports indicate the victim drowned.
Further, DeLeon told first responders that her children had been sick and she had given adult Nyquil to the victim. Police found a bottle of the medicine and a baby dropper partially filled in the kitchen.
The drug charges in the case stem from paraphernalia responding officers found in DeLeon's apartment. When she consented to testing, results indicated she had both methamphetamine and THC in her system.
DeLeon is not currently in custody. Her 18-month-old son has been placed in protective custody.