Mother accused of drowning autistic son enters plea of not guilty

Lawyer appears on Patricia Ripley’s behalf during video conference

MIAMI, Fla. – The coronavirus pandemic has stalled a number of cases including the one of the mother accused of drowning her 9-year-old autistic son.

Cases like Patricia Ripley’s have been put on standby as far as a grand jury returning an indictment or not returning one at all because of the hold on in-court proceedings due to coronavirus.

On Friday, a quick arraignment in Miami-Dade County Court had Ripley’s attorney telling the judge that her client would enter a plea of not guilty.

“For the record, I will enter a plea of not guilty and demand discovery,” Ripley’s lawyer, Susy Ribero-Ayala, said on her behalf during a video conference. Ripley did not appear at the arraignment.

The 45-year-old is accused of killing her 9-year-old son, Alejandro, in May after police said she pushed the autistic, non-verbal boy, into a body of water where he drowned.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said during the arraignment that her office filed a notice to seek an indictment on count one, which would be murder in the first degree. Ripley could face the death penalty.

Defense attorneys are demanding discovery evidence for the charges brought against Ripley.

The Evidence

A possible piece of evidence in this case could be surveillance video from the night Alejandro died taken from the area of a West Kendall condominium complex.

Statements of witnesses and surveillance footage show video of a woman who police believe is Ripley pushing the boy into a canal at the Kendall Acres Condominium complex around 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 21. Neighbors there intervened before the nine-year-old could drown. An hour later, police say she found another pond-like canal at the Miccosukee Golf and Country Club SW 62nd street and 138th Court, where she led Alejandro into the water.

His body was found floating in the canal at 7:50 a.m. Friday.

The Amber Alert

An Amber Alert was issued for Alejandro after Ripley called Miami-Dade Police to tell them that she was driving west on Southwest 88th Street from 157th Avenue on Thursday evening when she noticed that she was being followed by a light blue, four-door sedan.

She told police that that the driver tried to side-swipe her car, forcing her to veer onto Southwest 158th Avenue. A black man then got out of the car and demanded drugs from her and threatened her with a knife. She said he then took the child and a computer tablet.

Ripley is facing numerous felony charges including child abuse and falsely reporting a crime.

When this case will be presented to a grand jury is still unclear. Ripley remains in jail and is being held without bond.

About the Authors: