The mother of a 5-year-old Oklahoma City girl who was starved and kept in a closet pleaded guilty Tuesday to neglect and abuse charges and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Aesusena Gonzalez, 31, pleaded guilty to one count each of child abuse and child neglect as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. She received 20 years for each count, to be served concurrently.
Gonzalez, who is also known as Asusena Gonzales, must serve 18.5 years before she is eligible for parole. She faced a possible sentence of up to life in prison if she had been convicted by a jury.
A Department of Human Services worker investigating an anonymous tip found the girl July 18 and called police to 1124 SW 36, where Gonzalez and Sergio Almeida, 28, lived with six children.
The girl weighed only 19 pounds when she was hospitalized, less than she did during an 18-month checkup, police said. She had very little muscle tissue and marks on her thighs that appeared to have been caused by being beaten with a cord.
Prosecutors said the girl is making “good progress.”
Almeida, 28, and Maria Gonzalez, 51, the girl's grandmother, are charged with enabling child neglect.
Both have court appearances scheduled for early next year.
Almeida was arrested July 20 when he showed up for a hearing involving the other five children.
He lived at the house and stayed there at least two nights a week when not traveling for work, the children told investigators.
Maria Gonzalez was arrested July 22 in Denton, Texas, after the girl's 12-year-old brother told police she tended to them at least twice a week while their mother was at work.
She told DHS she had lived at the house but moved out because her daughter was not taking care of the children.
“The victim's condition was so horrific that it would have been impossible for Maria not to have known there was abuse,” a detective reported.
When the DHS worker went to the house and asked the girl where she slept, the girl took the worker to the mother's bedroom and pointed to the closet.
A cup in the closet contained urine and feces.
Aesusena Gonzalez told the DHS worker she thought the girl had been using the cup to urinate in.