Mom guilty in daughter's death gets life sentence

Maciel Sandoval convicted of assault, injury to child

HOUSTON - A mother who was found to be responsible for her 4-year-old daughter's death was sentenced to life in prison on Monday.

Maciel Sandoval, 28, was found guilty Friday of assault and injury to a child, and jurors decided sentencing on Monday after noon.

Houston police said Sandoval's 4-year-old daughter, Betsabeth, died on June 3, 2011.

Investigators said Sandoval went to work that morning and left her daughter in the care of her roommate, Judith Herrera-Garcia, 36. Herrera-Garcia reported finding Betsabeth unresponsive about noon. Betsabeth was rushed to Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital, where she died.

Betsabeth's father was in court Monday to see Sandoval punished.

"I'm sad because I will never get my daughter's life back again, but I'm pleased with the jury's decision," father Hector Horacioramos said. "What I believe would be justice for my daughter would be at least life sentence because someone like that, that hurts their own kid, they deserve to be in prison for the rest of their life."

According to the Institute of Forensic Sciences, Betsabeth also had old injuries, including broken bones, that indicated that she had been hit with a hand, object or belt. She may have also been thrown against a wall, investigators said.

Sandoval and Herrera-Garcia were later arrested and charged in the girl's death. Prosecutors said the women starved the girl.

Several months before Betsabeth's death, Children's Protective Services were notified about allegations of abuse. Officials said they investigated, and spoke with the girl's doctor, and did not find anything out of the ordinary.

Sandoval admitted that she did not tell CPS the truth about what was happening with her daughter. She just told them that her daughter was sick, but she said she did not tell them that her daughter refused to eat.

Defense attorneys said Sandoval is from Nicaragua and did not trust the government.

Herrera-Garcia is scheduled to stand trial later this year.

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