Sunday, September 23, 2012

Texas Woman Cleared of Murdering Nephew

[UPDATE 10/14/12: After the TLC program broadcast on October 11, Access Hollywood did a followup interview. You can read about the latest on Mayra Rosales on this blog.
UPDATE 11/28/12: Mayra has a Facebook page where you can read more of her progress.]

On October 10, at 9:00 p.m. ET, if you are near a television, consider turning to TLC for a program that will blow your mind.The subject of the story is a woman who admitted to accidentally killing her nephew. It turns out that the woman falsely confessed to the homicide in an attempt to save her sister, who is the one who actually killed her own son.

But this is not a simple story of a woman willing to take a fall for her sister. Indeed, the woman who confessed is not capable of taking a fall. She is not capable of rolling over, or even lifting her arm. That's how police and the woman's own attorney knew she was not telling the truth. But it took two years to get to that point and have charges dropped against the defendant.

Mayra Rosales

Meet Mayra Rosales. She is from La Joya, Texas, which is about 250 miles south of San Antonio in the south of the Lone Star state, near the Mexican border. In early 2008, Mayra and her husband Bernie moved in with Mayra's sister, Jaime, and her three children. It was there, in March of 2008, that Mayra's 2 1/2 year old nephew suffered catastrophic injuries that led to his death.

The story that Mayra told police was that her sister had left Eliseo, Jr., in her care, along with her two other children. Mayra said that at some point she slipped and her hand fell on Eliseo, and he fell under the bed she was on. She called her sister to say his head was swelling. Eliseo died that afternoon at the hospital after being removed from life support.

Apparently Mayra's 20 year-old sister Jaime was no stranger to the family services department. She had signed a safety plan in April of the previous year saying she would not leave her children alone in Mayra's care because of Mayra's disability.

What was--and is--Mayra's disability? Mayra is obese. Morbidly obese. At the time of the death of her nephew, Mayra was age 27 and she weighed about 800 pounds.
Mayra Rosales in 2008

More recently, however, Myra has weighed in more than 200 pounds heavier, at 1032 pounds.

Mayra weighed in at more than 1/2 a ton.
During the investigation, an autopsy on Eliseo, Jr., revealed injuries inconsistent with what Mayra said happened. Skull fractures and other bruising revealed that blunt force trauma killed the infant. In other words, he was hit in the head--hard--more than once. There was also evidence that Eliseo had suffered additional injuries in previous weeks.

Mayra was arrested and arraigned at her sister's home, while lying in her bed. Her sister, Jaime, was also arrested and charged with child endangerment for leaving her children alone in Mayra's care, contrary to her safety plan. Mayra remained in her sister's home with her husband Bernie while awaiting trial.

Mayra and her husband Bernie. Some blame him for bringing Myra the food that sustains her weight.

Jump forward 18 months, to Fall of 2009. As Mayra's trial date approached and preparations were made to accommodate her in a local courtroom, Mayra had a change of heart. When she learned that her sister was pregnant with her fifth child, she finally realized she had to stop lying to protect her sister. The judge, Ricardo Rodriguez, Jr., dispensed an agent of the court to Mayra's location, equipped with a video camera. Her lawyer swore her in and she answered his questions under oath, explaining that she had seen her sister kick and beat Eliseo, Jr., that morning of March 18, 2008.

Armed with this revocation of Mayra's earlier confession, her attorney hoped to have the charges dropped. While the prosecution was deciding whether to charge Jaime with capital murder, it was learned that she had fled across the border to Mexico with Eliseo, Sr., the father of the dead child. That news came in February of 2010 when Jaime failed to appear in court.

With Jaime gone, the charges remained against Mayra, and she began to gain even more weight. Five months passed, and the strain took an even greater physical toll on Mayra. She had to be removed from the home through a hole cut in the wall and taken to the hospital.

With the walls removed, Mayra was able to be lifted and wheeled out of the house.

Mayra at a hospital where she lost about 144 pounds.
A specialist on the super morbidly obese was brought in from Houston by her attorney to consult on Mayra's condition in March of 2011. She was still gaining weight, and the doctor said that she had lymphedema, and he thought her condition was terminal. But before he could help her, Mayra had to clear herself of the pending criminal charges.

Jaime Rosales
Eventually, after being on the run in Mexico for a number of months, Jaime Morales was arrested again. Her boyfriend, Eliseo, Sr., was a member of a notorious Mexican cartel. He was not with Jaime when she returned and was not arrested. Police were there to take Jaime into custody. She said she came back to the U.S. because she would be better off in prison than with Eliseo, Sr. He was involved in human trafficking and had sold her to men also. Jaime agreed to plead guilty to causing injury to a child rather than be charged with murder. She was sentenced to 15 years, but she could be out within 3 years if she behaves in prison.

In the intervening time, Mayra had gone on trial for the murder. Despite her initial confession, Mayra's defense team argued that she could not have inflicted the wounds that resulted in Eliseo's death. That's because Mayra was too fat, and she could not lift her arms to swing an object to hit the child. Mayra was able to attend the court proceedings only because the wall of her home was removed and she was carried out by multiple firemen and EMTs. The judge agreed, and she was exonerated.

In August of 2011, Myra went to Houston where the obesity specialist worked so as to begin treatment.
Doctors found multiple skin infections in the folds of her fat. These had to be treated as if they were burns. She still had lymphedema. With the medication she began to take, her body sloughed off 12 liters of fluid per day. Over the course of 12 weeks, Mayra dropped about 280 pounds. By December of 2011, Mayra had lost about 450 pounds.

Mayra in January, 2012.
A previous film of Mayra's story was made by a British filmmaker in the months leading up to her trial. It is divided into four parts. I have embedded the first one here. The links to Parts 2, 3, and 4 are below. If you miss the TLC show in October, you will at least be able to see Mayra's story here.

Part 1: Mayra Rosales 1036 3/4

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:


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