Baby found, took pill lost by father, affidavit says

An infant Clifton girl died after apparently finding her father’s lost Oxycontin pill and swallowing the painkiller, according to an arrest affidavit.

Manuel Rivera, 30, was distraught and screaming when Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrived at his apartment around 7:30 a.m. March 6, where 17-month-old Analeisa Rivera was unresponsive and not breathing on the living room floor, the affidavit said. Manuel Rivera told deputies to arrest him on the spot.

“Rivera insisted Analeisa’s death was his fault because he had two (Oxycontin) pills and had dropped one, of which he did not find,” the affidavit said. “Rivera stated Analeisa had vomited after he lost the pill, so she must have eaten the pill.”

The girl’s mother, Melissa Rivera, was overheard screaming at her husband, “Why he did not tell her about the missing Oxy pill, and she would have helped him look for it,” the affidavit said.

The affidavit in Rivera’s case was unsealed Monday.

Rivera told deputies he got the pills from a friend in Denver, where the family was visiting before returning March 5. He said he was unpacking and undressing in the master bedroom around 6:30 p.m., when he noticed one of two of the blue-green pills on the floor. He said he looked for the missing one, but didn’t find it. Rivera told authorities his two daughters, including Analeisa, had also been playing in the room.

Melissa Rivera said Analeisa was “fussing” around 3 a.m., which was her normal feeding time, but the child took her bottled milk and eventually fell asleep in a toddler bed close to her. Melissa Rivera told deputies she observed nothing wrong with the child.

When the couple’s 3-year-old daughter crawled into bed with her parents hours later, the girl told her mother, “Sissy would not wake up,” the affidavit said.

“Melissa Rivera reported she was not aware that Manuel had lost the Oxycontin pill until he told her on the morning of her daughter’s death,” the affidavit said.

Rivera told his wife he took an Oxycontin pill around the time he noticed one was missing the night before, the affidavit said.

A toxicology report showed Analeisa had consumed approximately 13 times what would be considered a normal, therapeutic dose of the narcotic for a child, according to the affidavit. The affect of the pill would have been in roughly an hour after ingestion. The time of death was estimated sometime after the child’s last feeding at 3 a.m., the affidavit said.

An analysis of the girl’s feeding bottle showed no controlled substances were detected, the affidavit said.

While acknowledging he obtained the pills from a friend in Denver, Manuel Rivera refused to identify that person to deputies, the affidavit. Rivera admitted past abuse of the drug, adding Oxycontin made him “lazy.”

“I like the nod,” Rivera told deputies.

Rivera is being held on $500,000 bond at the Mesa County Jail, and prosecutors are expected to file formal charges Thursday in District Judge Valerie Robison’s courtroom.


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