Mother sentenced for child abuse, lying during trial for son’s murder

Posted at 4:53 PM, Jul 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-19 17:19:16-04

KENT COUNTY, Mich. -- Thirteen months after her four-year-old son was murdered, a mother from Gaines Township was sentenced for child abuse and lying during the trial of his murder.

Sonja Hernandez, 29, was sentenced for perjury and second-degree child abuse, and will serve 57 months to 10 years in prison.

Giovanni Mejias (undated courtesy photo)

Last June, Hernandez’s son, Giovanni Mejias, 4, died at home from being hit in his stomach, according to police, and also had older injuries at the time.

Hernandez’s boyfriend at the time, Ellis Ortiz-Nieves, 27, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for Mejias’ murder.  Ortiz-Nieves and his family maintain his innocence along with Hernandez, who initially defended her boyfriend in court, lying about any domestic violence in their home.

Last month, when Hernandez faced up to life in prison for perjury in a capital case, and child abuse, Hernandez took a plea deal and pleaded guilty to lying under oath.

During Thursday's sentencing, no one spoke on behalf of Hernandez’s children, but she addressed the court.

"I have to live with the fact that I failed my children," said Hernandez. "Your Honor, what you decide to give me is nothing compared to what I have been through. I wanted to apologize to my family, my children, my lawyer and the court."

Acknowledging Hernandez was abused as a child, 17th Circuit Court Judge Dennis Leiber said she has no excuse for her actions.

"There's no justification or excuse for abandoning your most sacred responsibility, that is to care for the children who you claim to love," said Judge Leiber.

As FOX 17 reported, court documents state two children at Hernandez's home told Child Protective Services that Hernandez did not protect them from "ongoing severe violence committed by Elis Ortiz-Nieves." Records also say Hernandez blamed one of the children for Meijas' murder.