A 23-year-old mother from Texas will likely spend several decades behind bars after admitting to killing her 5-year-old daughter, subjecting the child to what authorities called “extreme abuse and torture” before her death.
Katrina Rose Mendoza on Monday pleaded guilty to one count of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury by omission, a first-degree felony, for her role in the brutal 2022 death of young Mercedes Losoya, authorities confirmed to Law&Crime.
Based on the charge, Mendoza would have been facing a maximum possible sentence of life in prison, but she and her defense attorney reached a deal with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office in which prosecutors agreed to cap her sentence at 45 years in exchange for her admission of guilt.
Mendoza and her then-boyfriend, 27-year-old Jose Angel Ruiz, were both arrested in February 2022 following Mercedes’ death. Ruiz has pleaded not guilty to one count of injury to a child causing serious bodily injury and is scheduled to go to trial in October, records show.
District Judge Stephanie Boyd on Monday announced that she would hold off on formally sentencing Mendoza until after Ruiz’s trial is completed, according to a report from the San Antonio Express-News. Additionally, Mendoza reportedly applied for deferred adjudication probation, a move that prosecutors have already come out against.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, Mendoza on Feb. 7 brought an unresponsive Mercedes to Southwest General Hospital in San Antonio for treatment. Doctors attempted to resuscitate Mercedes but she was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The medical team noted that Mercedes had suffered “visible injuries” and notified police about the suspicious nature of her wounds. Officers with the San Antonio Police responding to the scene produced a disturbing report about the provenance of Mercedes’ injuries.
Per the affidavit, Mercedes had visible patches of hair missing that appeared to have been torn straight from her head. She had also sustained extensive “bruises, scratches, cuts, and swelling on every visible portion of her body.” She had cuts and swelling on both of her hands that appeared to be defensive wounds, police said.
Mercedes’ legs and feet were also battered and she was missing several toe nails, authorities said.
“The victim’s legs were covered with bruises, some of which appeared to be patterned, which is what is commonly seen when belts or other objects are used to inflict injury,” the affidavit stated.
The Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy on Mercedes and told police that it was “obvious the victim suffered extreme abuse and torture,” per the affidavit. Mercedes’ injuries were so numerous that the medical examiner said there was “no clear or obvious injury that caused the victim’s death.”
In an interview with investigators, Mendoza allegedly accused Ruiz of subjecting Mercedes to horrific abuse in the three weeks since she, Mercedes, and her 6-year-old daughter moved into his home.
In a particularly disturbing admission, Mendoza told police that she witnessed Ruiz “shovel dog feces into the victim’s mouth as he yelled at the child” and “did the same thing with a sock soaked in urine.” She further claimed that Ruiz aggressively pulled the sock from Mercedes’ mouth with such force that he ripped out two of her teeth.
Mendoza continued providing investigators with shocking allegations of physical abuse and corporal punishment, included how Ruiz punched the child with closed fists while wearing multiple rings. She also claimed Ruiz forced Mercedes to stand in place while holding “heavy objects” during a video call in the weeks before her death. She said Mercedes was crying while she held the objects.
Ruiz told police that when it came to Mercedes he merely “slapped her on the ass” and made her stand in the corner. He allegedly blamed all of the child’s injuries on Mendoza — except for the missing portions of hair, which he claimed were pulled out by Mercedes’ 6-year-old sister.
Police wrote that Ruiz “appeared to be deflecting responsibility for his actions onto Mendoza and the victim’s sister.”
Following the arrests of Mendoza and Ruiz, Mercedes’ 6-year-old sister was removed from the home and placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.
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