Father guilty in Oxycodone death of toddler

Manuel Angel Rivera

Weeping for much of a brief court hearing, a Clifton man Tuesday said he was responsible for the Oxycodone overdose death of his toddler daughter.

Manuel Rivera, 31, will serve anywhere from 12 to 18 years in prison under the terms of a plea agreement struck Tuesday. Rivera pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in the death of his daughter, 17-month-old Analeisa Rivera.

Manuel Rivera faced 64 years in prison had he been convicted at trial on the same charge, in addition to three habitual criminal charges that were dismissed Tuesday by the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office.

Rivera on Tuesday sobbed and refused to speak for several minutes when the judge asked him if he understood the elements of the crime to which he was pleading guilty.

Rivera’s case had been delayed because of questions about his sanity.

In a report received by District Judge Valerie Robison on Oct. 17, a doctor with the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo wrote that Rivera is competent to stand trial following a mental health evaluation.

An arrest affidavit said Rivera on March 6 told deputies he dropped two Oxycontin pills in his bedroom, and he was unable to find one of them, when he and his family returned from a trip to Denver on March 5. Authorities were called to the family’s Clifton apartment about 7:30 a.m. March 6 when Analeisa Rivera was found not breathing.

A toxicology report showed the toddler had consumed approximately 13 times what would be considered a normal, therapeutic dose of the narcotic for a child, according to the affidavit. Analysis of the toddler’s feeding bottle showed no narcotics.

Rivera initially refused to tell investigators where he got the pills he’d lost the day before his daughter was found dead, the affidavit said.

He will be sentenced Dec. 22 by Robison.


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