A woman was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery in the 2019 death of her 5-year-old son, Keith Higgins, the district attorney for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, announced Thursday.
During the trial that took place in Camden County court from Dec. 12 through Dec. 15, a jury also found Maria Miranda Alas, 29, not guilty of the remaining charges of felony murder, second-degree murder, first-degree cruelty to children, and second-degree cruelty to children.
The Camden County Sheriff’s Office arrested Alas — as well as her boyfriend, Max Mejia Meza, who was charged with making false statements — in July 2019, just days after the death of her 5-year-old son, Matthew Ortega.
The Sheriff’s Office said Alas flagged down a deputy and communicated that the boy in her lap was unconscious. The couple was escorted to Camden Medical Center.
Prosecutors said Alas initially reported that the child had drowned, but medical providers determined that the child was suffering from multiple blunt force injuries, as the boy had a lot of blood in his stomach consistent with internal bleeding.
As the child’s condition worsened, he was flown by air ambulance to Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, where he died.
Following his death, according to prosecutors, the medical examiner determined that the cause of death was multiple traumatic injuries, including a fractured skull, fractured ribs, and abrasions and bruises over most of his body.
Prosecutors said evidence presented during Alas’ trial included multiple statements made by Alas to law enforcement — which at the trial she stated she had lied about.
“Alas made a statement to law enforcement in July 2019, where she admitted she caused the death of her child but professed it was accidental,” Higgins’ office said in a news release. “During trial, Alas testified that the statement she made in July 2019 should not be believed because it was fictional; however, the medical examiner testified that the July 2019 statement by Alas was consistent with the child’s cause of death.”
Alas’ sentencing will be scheduled for some time in early 2023.
According to prosecutors, Meza, 27, accepted a negotiated guilty plea of five years to serve three to a felony charge of making a false statement.