GAINESVILLE, TX -- Almost two years ago, 4-year-old Gainesville boy was found unresponsive, with severe burns covering more than half his body. Four people were arrested in connection with his death. Wednesday one of those suspects -- the child's mother -- learned her fate in court.
After a 3-day long trial and nearly 3 hour deliberation by a jury, Catrina Maldonado was sentenced to life in prison without parole, for her involvement in the death of her son Nathan De Alejandro.
"It's hard every day. It's hard every morning. But, at least now we know he can rest. You know, he's at peace now, I hope," Christopher De Alejandro said.
That's Nathan's father, Christopher De Alejandro, reacting after he learned the mother of his son, Catrina Maldonado, will serve life in prison after Maldonado pleaded guilty to felony injury to a child in the first degree, causing serious bodily injury.
After Wednesday's verdict, District Attorney Janice Warder released this statement to News 12.
"I think it was the only appropriate verdict. I think it was a hard thing to ask the jury to look at the evidence of this case, because it was so gruesome," Warder said.
Emergency responders were called to Maldonado's Gainesville home in the early hours of September 24th, 2011, when Nathan was found unresponsive with severe burns covering 60 percent of his body.
Investigators say the burns occurred on September 10th, two weeks before Nathan's death.
When officers arrested Maldonado and her boyfriend Johnny Earl Alexander on September 21st in connection to drug trafficking -- Nathan was at home in bed.
Maldonado told officers he had the flu and Alexander's parents were picking him up to take him to a doctor's appointment. Investigators say Alexander's father, Johnny Lee Alexander, and mother, Matilde, picked Nathan up, but did not take him to the doctor, nor did they report to police that he had burns on his body.
The two pleaded guilty to felony charges related to Nathan's death and both have been sentenced to eight years in prison, while Maldonado will serve life.
"I'm just glad it's finally over and the jury decided what to give her. I think it's the proper punishment. It's been a long time coming. Like I said two years, and I'm just glad it's finally over," De Alejandro said.
Maldonado's boyfriend, Johnny Earl Alexander, is charged with felony injury to a child in the first degree causing serious bodily injury. His trial date it set for November 4th.
He has admitted to authorities Nathan was in his care when the burns occurred, but claims they were accidental.
Nine doctors involved in this case have said it is unknown what caused the burns to Nathan's body.