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Miami mom accused of drowning autistic son in canal faces death penalty after indictment

Miami Herald - 10/29/2020

Oct. 29--Patricia Ripley, the West Kendall mother accused of murdering her 9-year-old autistic son by pushing him into a canal, now faces the death penalty.

A Miami-Dade grand jury -- meeting again after months in hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic -- this week indicted Ripley for first-degree murder. Prosecutors, during a court hearing on Thursday morning, announced the indictment and that it will execution as a possible punishment.

Ripley is accused of the May 21 killing of Alejandro Ripley, who suffered from severe autism and could not speak. She is charged with a host of other felonies, and remains jailed while awaiting trial.

Police said she initially called 911 to report two Black men took the boy after running her off the road near a West Kendall Home Depot. State authorities issued an Amber Alert. The next day, the boy's body was found in a canal near the Miccosukee Golf & Country Club, at Southwest 138th Court and 62nd Street, about four miles from where the alleged abduction took place.

Investigators were suspicious of Ripley's changing accounts of what happened. Miami-Dade homicide detectives discovered that that Ripley, earlier in the evening of the 21st, was caught on camera pushing the boy into a canal, but the child was rescued by a bystander.

About an hour later, according to police, Ripley pushed the child into the water nearby and he drown.

When confronted by police, Ripley admitted she'd made up the kidnapping story, according to police. She admitted to leading the boy to the canal where he ultimately died, and said "he's going to be in a better place," the report said.

Ripley did not appear during Thursday's brief court hearing. Because she is now faces capital punishment, Ripley needs to be told that her lawyers must be certified to handle death-penalty cases, prosecutors said.

"We would need to have Miss Ripley here," prosecutor Gail Levine told the court.

Another hearing was set for next week.

Her defense lawyer, Suzy Ribero-Ayala, said she has only been able to see her client through virtual meetings. In-person jail visits are still suspended because of the threat of the coronavirus.

"I still have not been able to see Ripley face to face," Ribero-Ayala said.


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