EDINBURG - A morbidly obese woman facing capital murder charges is not physically capable of inflicting the injuries that killed her young nephew, her attorney said.
Health conditions brought on by her obesity have left Mayra Rosales, 27, of Sullivan City, bedridden and only capable of moving herself with great effort - making it impossible for her to have beaten 2-year-old Eliseo Gonzalez Jr. to death as authorities have alleged, lawyer Sergio Valdez said.
"It's traumatic enough to have a child, a son or a nephew die," he said. "Throw on top of that charges that she caused it, and you can imagine how hard this has been for her."
Rosales was indicted on capital murder charges last week, five months after sheriff's deputies found Eliseo dead at her La Joya home from blunt force blows to his head.
According to a criminal complaint filed in her case, the woman originally told investigators she accidentally fell on the child, but changed her story later - saying first that he fell out of a high chair and later that he got stuck under her bed.
However, autopsy reports suggested that Eliseo's wounds were intentionally inflicted, authorities reported.
Valdez suggests that instead of blaming his client, deputies should have focused their investigation on Eliseo's mother, 20-year-old Jamie Rosales.
She was indicted last week on felony charges of injury to a child because she allegedly violated an agreement with Child Protective Services that she would no longer leave her children with Mayra Rosales because the woman was physically incapable of caring for them.
"Our position is that the CPS reports should be very telling as to what happened to this child," Valdez said.
Jamie Rosales' attorney, Oscar Vega, did not return calls for comment Wednesday.
Mayra Rosales suffers from a severe thyroid condition that caused her to put on hundreds of pounds over the last few years, Valdez said. Although she reportedly weighed about 250 pounds during high school, her rapid weight gain left her bedridden last year.
She requires frequent home visits from doctors and nurses and is watched over by her husband and family, Valdez said.
"She can consume food just like you or me," he said. "But her body cannot break it down or digest it."
Mayra Rosales has remained under house arrest since investigators first accused her of the crime because the county jail does not have the resources to house her. Prosecutors have also ruled out confining her to a hospital bed because of the prohibitive cost.
If convicted on capital murder charges, she could face the death penalty.
Jamie Rosales was released from custody in March on a $20,000 bond. She could be sentenced to as much as life in prison should she be found guilty.