Byron Rivera said he hasn't seen his son Crystian in four years, and now the only way he can see him is through a Plexiglas window at the Oklahoma County jail.
Crystian Rivera, 13, is being held without bail on a murder complaint in the death of his half-sister, Linda Beletzuy. Linda was nearly 10 months old when she died Friday from a head injury.
Crystian Rivera told police he shook the infant when her cries began distracting him from playing a video game inside their apartment at 1609 N MacArthur Blvd. Medical staff said Linda Beletzuy had a severe brain injury, a skull fracture and blood clots that were compressing her brain.
Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow said the parents of the girl, Linda and Carlos Beletzuy, are not being investigated for any wrongdoing, but a third child in the house was taken into DHS custody, at least temporarily.
Carlos Beletzuy was reached Thursday but declined to comment on the case.
The last visit
Crystian's biological father, Byron Rivera, 35, said he read about his son's arrest in The Oklahoman and wants to speak on his behalf.
“It's kind of a huge surprise for me to hear about the situation right now,” he said. “I want peace and freedom for him.”
The last time the two met was at an Oklahoma City restaurant on Sept. 16, 2007. He said they sat and talked for an hour about school and life in the United States.
“It was really hard when I saw him,” he said. “I said, ‘Son, I'm here and I love you.' He told me he was attending church and reading the Bible.”
Coming to the U.S.
Byron Rivera said he and Linda were married in 1997 and Crystian was born in Guatemala in 1998. The family moved to Phoenix in 1999 and relocated several times before settling in Oklahoma in 2000.
The couple separated that year and their divorce was final in 2002. Custody of Crystian was granted to his mother, court records show, and Byron Rivera was awarded supervised visitation.
Byron Rivera said he was in Guatemala when a public notice for the divorce petition was published in a classified advertisement. His former wife's attorney, Kristie Scivally, said a judge approved the divorce conditions sought by her client because Byron Rivera was not in Oklahoma for the hearing.
Byron Rivera said he returned to the United States in 2005 and settled in Texas, but was not able to see his son until that day in the restaurant in 2007. He still carries a photo Crystian gave him, showing the boy at age 7.
Fighting for freedom
Byron Rivera said he moved to Oklahoma in late 2010 and began taking classes at Oklahoma City Community College earlier this year to better understand English and his son's culture.
He said he's been looking for Crystian since he moved to the city. He said he plans to speak to an attorney and find a way to help his son.
Police said Crystian's mother told them her daughter fell off a bed and also had fallen from the passenger seat of their vehicle to the floorboard a few days before, but the mother was not present either time.
Medical officials said the baby's injuries were inconsistent with an accidental fall.
Byron Rivera said he's looking forward to seeing his son but was told the earliest opportunity for a jail visit would be next week.
Oklahoma County jail administrator Maj. Jack Herron said each inmate is permitted one visit per week with up to five people at one time. Byron Rivera said he plans to write to his son until he can visit him.
“This is like a nightmare,” he said. “I have the capacity to help him. I can tell you, he needs to just have a new beginning. My goal is to visit him, stay with him and support him.”