The Oceanside, California, woman charged with her son’s drowning made the decision to kill him twice, according to the prosecution.
Veronica Rivas, 28, faced a judge for the first time on Wednesday. Rivas pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder and assault on a child under 5 causing death.
Rivas’ son, 21-month-old Elijah, was found dead Sept. 10 at her condo on Woodpark Way. Investigators say during questioning, Rivas confessed to drowning her son.
Rivas shook her head as the prosecutor shared details of that confession.
Rivas told police that she decided earlier in the day that she was going to kill her son, according to prosecutor Claudia Grasso.
“She said, ‘I thought of the tub because it would just be the easiest,’” Grasso said.
Grasso said that Rivas filled the tub and called her son into the bathroom.
“She herself says that she put him in the water face down and held him there,” Grasso said.
According to the prosecutor, when Rivas thought the boy was dead, she took him out of the tub. However, he came to and started crying, coughing and vomiting.
“She made the decision to put him back in the tub,” Grasso said.
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The boy’s grandmother came home, discovered Elijah unconscious and called 911. The toddler was pronounced dead at the scene.
Rivas was also found unconscious and was rushed to the hospital. Police say she was treated for a medical emergency but could not say if it was an attempted suicide, as neighbors had speculated. The prosecutor said she had taken Tylenol and alcohol.
Police say Rivas was suffering from depression over a custody battle with her son’s father. The boy’s father was in court Wednesday but did not comment.
Judge William Gentry set Rivas’ bail at $3 million. The prosecution had asked for only $2 million.
A readiness conference is scheduled for Sept. 25, and a preliminary hearing is set for Sept. 30.