Mother, grandmother plead in starvation case
CARSON CITY – Despite her protests that she did not know her children were being beaten or starved, a capital city mother tearfully pleaded guilty Tuesday to three felony charges stemming from the alleged abuse her 16-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son suffered for five years in an apartment bathroom.
“That wasn’t my understanding that they weren’t being fed,” Regina Rios, 33, cried out in court before turning to confront her co-defendant and mother. “And she knows that!”
Regina Rios, her mother, Esther Rios, 55, and Regina Rios’ husband, Tomas Granados, 33, were arrested on Jan. 19 after Regina Rios’ 16-year-old daughter was found weighing just 41 pounds and pushing a shopping cart of food she’d stolen from the family’s Como Street apartment.
The girl told police she’d been locked in the bathroom by her grandmother in which she and her 11-year-old brother had been held captive and starving for the past five years.
When her brother was found hidden under a bed in the apartment, he weighed 31 pounds, his feet were deformed from the cramped quarters of his confinement, and he suffered from a speech impediment so thick only his sister could understand him.
Esther Rios stoically pleaded guilty to two charges of child abuse and neglect and two charges of false imprisonment, saying she was pleading because she thought a trial “would be too traumatic for me.”
But Regina Rios was angry. When her mother entered the room she began to weep and refused to look in her direction.
When her attorney objected to wording in the plea agreement that stated Regina Rios knew the children suffered beatings and starvation, Regina Rios shook her bowed head in agreement.
“I didn’t know my kids were being beaten. I didn’t know,” Regina Rios told the judge. “I knew they were in the bathroom, and I knew they were losing weight.”
“Why didn’t you do anything about it?” District Judge Bill Maddox asked.
“Because (Esther Rios) was telling me that they had an eating disorder and she was going to take care of them or else they were going to take the kids away,” she wailed between tears and gasps. “She kept telling me that.”
Esther Rios faces six to 70 years in prison when sentenced Nov. 7. Regina Rios faces five to 55 years.
“I think the grandmother was the one responsible for the abuse of the children, and the mother has been charged with permitting or allowing the abuse,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Anne Langer in explaining the differences in the charges to which the women pleaded. “You have one that’s actually causing, and you have another that’s permitting.”
Tomas Granados pleaded guilty Sept. 1 to one count of false imprisonment and one count of child neglect. He faces two to 35 years during the Nov. 7 hearing.
The two victims and three other healthy children found in the home are in the custody of the state.
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