Mom, babysitter charged in connection with death of 4-year-old Houston girl


by Jeremy Desel / KHOU 11 News

Posted on June 14, 2011 at 10:11 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 15 at 3:53 PM

HOUSTON – A mother and a babysitter have been charged in connection with the death of a 4-year-old Houston girl.

Betsabeth Sandoval was found unresponsive on June 3 in the northeast Houston apartment where she lived with her mom, her mom’s roommate and the roommate’s 14-year-old son.

Maciel Sandoval told investigators she’d gone to work that day and left Betsabeth with her roommate, Judith Herrera-Garcia.

Herrera-Garcia told investigators that around noon, she’d walked into the room and found Betsabeth unresponsive on the floor. She said she called police and started CPR, to no avail.

Betsabeth was pronounced dead on arrival at Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital.

Maciel Sandoval, Herrera-Garcia and Herrera-Garcia’s son were all questioned and released.

But on Monday, Maciel Sandoval, 28, and Herrera-Garcia, 36, were charged with serious bodily injury to a child.

Investigators said Betsabeth had multiple bruises, cuts and fractures when she died, and since both women were responsible for her health and well-being, both were charged in connection with her death.

Betsabeth’s father, Horacio Ramos, told KHOU 11 News last week that he had to go talk to homicide detectives to find out that his daughter was dead.

"It hurts too much. There is too much pain in my heart," he said.

Maciel Sandoval has been estranged from Ramos for several years.

Because charges had yet to be filed when he buried Betsabeth on Saturday, Ramos worried that the person responsible for her death was mingling with him at the funeral.

"I could not even look at them. Even though I did not know whether they were going to be charged or not, I still had that doubt. Why? My big question is: Why?" Ramos said. "People like that they don't have a heart. If they killed their own kid, they can kill you, they can kill me."

For the last year of Betsabeth’s life, Ramos said Sandoval kept the girl from him by moving, changing jobs, and changing phone numbers.

“No matter what happens, there is always going to be a large emptiness in my heart that is never going to be fulfilled," said Ramos.

The two suspects were arrested Monday afternoon and booked in the Harris County Jail.

Investigators said it could be weeks before there is an official cause of death from the Medical Examiner. That's because they are waiting on toxicology and other tests.

Depending on the official cause of death, the current charges could be upgraded, even to murder.