At first, police say, Iris Hernandez Rivas couldn’t explain the traumatic injuries that left her 4-year-old daughter, Nohely, barely alive.
One moment, the little girl was taking a shower, Hernandez Rivas had told police, the next she was facedown in a bathtub in their apartment in Gaithersburg, Md.
Hernandez Rivas later offered further explanation, according to a police affidavit filed in Montgomery County District Court: She’d become angry because Nohely wouldn’t brush her teeth, so she kicked the girl in the stomach, causing her to fall backward and hit her head against a living room wall, according to police allegations.
Those statements are likely to figure in a criminal case being developed against the 20-year-old mother. Late last month, police jailed Hernandez Rivas on charges of first-degree child abuse and first-degree assault.
This week, days after being placed on a ventilator at Children’s National Medical Center in the District, the girl died, police said Friday. Any additional charges will depend on autopsy results and consultation with prosecutors, said Capt. Paul Starks, a police spokesman.
Hernandez Rivas remained held without bond Friday. Court records do not indicate whether she has retained an attorney.
On Jan. 26, just before 12:30 p.m., Hernandez Rivas called for medical help because her daughter was unresponsive. Paramedics arrived and took the child to a hospital in Rockville, where medical staff found “reddish bruising on multiple regions of her body,” according to court records. A CT scan also showed injury to her brain, and the girl was taken to Children’s Hospital, court records show.
Hospital reports indicated that the child also suffered a “small liver contusion” and “patterned injuries that are the result of blunt force trauma with an object.”
Hernandez Rivas initially told detectives that as her daughter was taking a shower, she heard a noise, went to check on her and found her facedown in the tub “unresponsive with her hands clenched at her side,” according to court records.
She said she took the child out of the tub, placed her on a bedroom floor and called her boyfriend and her brother. She eventually called police for help, according to court records, but did so 58 minutes after first noticing that Nohely was unresponsive.
Hernandez Rivas later told detectives about kicking her child. When asked about the reddish bruising, Hernandez Rivas said she had hit the child with a belt several days earlier.
Federal immigration agents have placed a detainer on Hernandez Rivas at the Montgomery County jail, an indication that she could be deported at a later date.