MIAMI (WGHP) -- A mother in Florida who is accused of drowning her 9-year-old son in a canal last month has pleaded not guilty through her attorney Friday, the Miami Herald reports.
Patricia Ripley, 45, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, aggravated child abuse and filing a false police report.
Her son, Alejandro Ripley, who had severe autism and was nonverbal, was found dead on May 22 in a canal at a golf and country club in western Miami-Dade County.
Prosecutors have filed a notice to seek a grand jury indictment for first-degree murder. At this time, grand juries have been suspended due to the pandemic. Someone cannot receive the death penalty unless they are indicted by a grand jury, according to Florida law.
Ripley initially told Miami-Dade Police that two men sideswiped her car while she was driving with her son, Alejandro Ripley, around 9 p.m. Thursday, officials said. She said the men demanded drugs and abducted her son. Contradicting witness statements and video footage later surfaced, and she admitted to her son’s death.
“She stated he’s going to be in a better place,” the Miami-Dade County Police said in an affidavit.
Video footage shows Ripley pushing the victim into a canal around 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Nearby residents heard screaming, found Alejandro in the canal and rescued him, Rundle said. Ripley took Alejandro to a different canal an hour later where the boy drowned, the affidavit said.