A judge sentenced a woman Friday to 35 years in prison for enabling the abuse of a 1-year-old boy left in her care while his mother was deployed overseas.
Elsa Solis, 30, stood by while her military husband severely beat the child, the judge said.
“You knew, you were present and you still don't take responsibility,” Oklahoma County District Judge Cindy Truong told Solis, who pleaded guilty in September to a charge of enabling child abuse.
The judge considered sentencing Solis to probation, but changed her mind after considering court transcripts and an interview in which her 6-year-old son told detectives his mother watched as Gabriel Solis punched the 1-year-old repeatedly.
Elsa Solis testified Friday that she didn't recall ever seeing her then-husband abuse the boy.
“You called your son a liar,” Truong said. “You don't deserve to be a mother.”
Man's court date set
Gabriel Solis, 31, of Del City, also appeared before Truong on Friday and attempted to withdraw the Alford plea he entered in September for a child abuse charge.
Under an Alford plea, a defendant accepts a sentence for a crime while still asserting innocence. The former Tinker Air Force Base airman admitted in court papers that sufficient evidence exists for a jury to convict him.
When Truong asked Gabriel Solis whether he was attempting to withdraw his plea because he was told the length of his ex-wife's sentence, he said “no.”
The judge then asked defense attorney Jason Lowe whether he told Gabriel Solis about the woman's sentence. The attorney said “yes.”
Lowe withdrew as his attorney, citing a conflict of interest. The judge will appoint a public defender to represent Gabriel Solis and set a Dec. 7 court date to consider the motion to withdraw his plea.
Gabriel Solis, who was fired in September by the Air Force, faces up to life in prison if Truong rejects the motion and decides to sentence him.
The couple were arrested in October 2010 after doctors found significant injuries to the child, whose mother was deployed in Saudi Arabia.
Police said the boy had numerous serious injuries. He was hospitalized after vomiting and having a five-minute seizure.
Doctors found multiple broken ribs and other bones in various states of healing, as well as a lacerated liver, bruising and a punctured lung. The boy had a bite mark on his left leg, prosecutors said in court papers.
Eyvette Carbajal, the child's mother, had placed her son in the care of Gabriel and Elsa Solis and made them legal guardians before she left the base in Hawaii where she and Gabriel Solis had been stationed, police said.
Carbajal, 23, is stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Wash., where she works as police officer. She said her son, who is almost 3, is “doing fantastic” and shows no lingering physical effects from his injuries.
She said she and the couple once did everything together, often walking into each other homes without knocking.
“We were that comfortable with each other, which makes her betrayal even more devastating,” Carbajal said.
Elsa Solis testified that her ex-husband verbally and physically abused her during their marriage, saying she was psychologically damaged as a result.
Elsa Solis' attorneys asked the judge for mercy, saying she took responsibility by entering a guilty plea in September.
“She's shown remorse for this,” attorney Johnny Lombardi said.
The defendant apologized to Carbajal, saying she was sorry she couldn't protect her son.
“I couldn't do it,” she said. “I tried really hard.”
Prosecutors saw it differently.
“This mother trusted her with her most prized possession — her son,” Assistant District Attorney Pamela Stillings told the judge. “She didn't stand up for little Nicholas, who couldn't stand up for himself.”