A jury has found a Sandy mother guilty of abusing her young son and causing his death.
Reyna Flores-Rosales called 911 on Feb. 25, 2019, to report that her 6-year-old son Norlin needed emergency medical care. As doctors treated the boy, they found he had many wounds, in various stages of healing, including a severe burn.
The mother was charged with aggravated murder for her 6-year-old son's death, but Reyna Flores-Rosales, 34, was found guilty, instead, of reckless child abuse homicide, a first-degree felony, after the jury was allowed to pick which charge best fit the situation from a few options.
The jury also found Flores-Rosales guilty Tuesday of two counts of intentional child abuse, a second-degree felony, and one count of reckless child abuse, a third-degree felony.
At the beginning of the trial, deputy Salt Lake County attorney Richard Pehrson showed messages that Flores-Rosales had sent to family about Norlin's potty-training struggles, as well as videos from her phone, where the boy had expressed fear of being punished.
The child died from blunt force trauma to his head that was not accidental, Pehrson said.
Defense attorney Deborah Kreeck Mendez, in her opening arguments for the trial, did not deny abuse was happening but encouraged the jury to think about how painful the trial would be for the mother, and said the loss of Norlin was devastating to her. She said her client was in the process of trying to move to Honduras where she would have help with parenting from family and the boy's father.
She talked about struggles Flores-Rosales was going through at the time of Norlin's death, and argued that aggravated murder, the most severe charge available, did not fit the situation.
The jury's choice of reckless child abuse homicide shows that they, too, did not think the mother's actions rose to the level of aggravated murder, but the mother did ignore major unjustifiable risks. The charge is a first-degree felony under Utah code, while criminally negligent child abuse homicide, another option the jury was given, is a second-degree felony.
The jury deliberated for about 2 1/2 hours and the verdict was read late Tuesday.
Flores-Rosales is scheduled to be sentenced on April 12.