MIAMI – (CBS4) – A mother who was charged with aggravated manslaughter on a child for leaving her 18-month-old son strapped to the car seat of a sweltering pick up truck took a guilty plea Tuesday.
Elizabeth Cuesta will not face any jail time. Instead, she will be on probation for the next five years with early termination in 2 ½ years if she follows the rules.
Her son Diego Vega has since been laid to rest, but her attorney said Cuesta is sentenced to a life of remorse.
“She’s feeling extremely remorseful,” said her private attorney Mike Bloom. “I don’t think her conduct is criminal and she’s going to live with this for the rest of her life.”
Cuesta refused to speak to the press saying she has been through enough.
On May 21, 2009, Cuesta’s 18-month old son was found in the back seat of a Silver Toyota Tundra pick-up truck in the parking lot of a shopping center located at 82nd Avenue and Flagler Street. Cuesta worked at an animal hospital inside the PetSmart located there.
Police say Cuesta arrived at work and six hours later, Miami-Dade police say the child’s father arrived at the strip mall parking lot and noticed his son unresponsive and called 911. Fire Rescue pronounced the boy dead at the scene.
“She said ‘I bring my son to daycare’, but it’s unbelievable, unbelievable,” said witness Mercedes Perez.
“It was an accident. The mother was working and then just realized that the kid was there. When she went to lunch, and then I don’t want to say nothing because we don’t know,” said family friend Roberto Espinosa.
With a high temperature of 88 degrees on May 21, 2009, experts estimate the temperature hit upwards of 130 degrees inside the truck. The toddler didn’t stand a chance.
“I feel bad because the kid is only two years old and the mother works here and imagine when she noticed the kid was already suffocated,” Espinosa said. “It hurts because he was a loved kid. It’s real tough.”