PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A local woman who admitted to playing a role in her young son’s death was sentenced to prison for manslaughter Tuesday.
Trisha Oliver, 33, pleaded guilty to manslaughter two months ago in the death of her 6-year-old son Marco Nieves back in 2009. In doing so, she admitted she failed to call 911 for more than twelve hours after her boyfriend beat the boy, rupturing his intestine.
Last year, a jury found Oliver’s boyfriend, 33-year-old Michael Patino, guilty of second-degree murder in Marco Nieves’ death. He is currently in prison serving a life sentence.
On Tuesday, Judge Kristin Rodgers sentenced Trisha Oliver to 20 years with eight years and nine months to serve at the ACI. The remainder of her sentence will be suspended with probation until the year 2036.
Oliver addressed the court about her son, saying, “He still is my everything, my heart. I have to live every day not waking up and seeing his perfect smile.” She apologized to her own family and to Nieves’ paternal family. Neither family addressed the court, as they are permitted to do during sentencing hearings.
The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Regine, doubted Oliver’s remorse in a passionate argument requesting the judge sentence her to 25 years with ten to serve in prison.
“When Marco was begging for his life and for help, she was begging to know where her marijuana was,” Regine said, citing text messages between Oliver and Patino the night Marco was beaten.
Prosecutors said Patino used the kindergartner as a punching bag, puncturing his bowel, which caused his death. At Patino’s trial, his defense attorney blamed Oliver, claiming she was responsible for his death because she failed to take him to the hospital. A former medical examiner testified during Patino’s trial that the boy would’ve survived his injuries had he received treatment right away.
Ultimately, the court determined both were responsible to different degrees.
At Oliver’s sentencing, Prosecutor Regine read text messages aloud to the court as evidence that she was concerned mostly about herself and Patino, not the well-being of her child.
“What if I got to take him to the hospital? What will I say? And those marks on his neck”
Judge Kristin Rodgers also doubted Oliver’s remorse, calling her actions “despicable” and “inexcusable.” She read more text messages from Oliver out loud, which including descriptions of his obvious symptoms that required medical treatment.
…”throwing up foam and his eyes keep rolling in the back of his head…everyone at church said he don’t look good, he’s passing out, I don’t know what’s wrong, but he is in pain.”
It wasn’t until the next morning, when Marco was no longer breathing, that Oliver called 911. Medical personnel reported that Oliver did not divulge what caused Marco’s injuries.
Judge Rodgers applauded Oliver’s attempts to rehabilitate herself since Marco’s death, acknowledging she was gainfully employed and received a college degree. Where Oliver failed, Rodgers said, was in expressing genuine remorse for her role in Marco’s death.
Remorse, Rodgers said, is a factor in the length of a defendant’s sentence.
“What is entirely lacking in the letter, as well as the treatment records, is any stated remorse for how she failed to protect her child,” Rodgers said, referring to a five-page letter Oliver wrote to the court prior to the sentencing, and the medical records provided by those who treated Nieves.
Oliver’s defense attorney, Mark Dana, argued that Patino was responsible for Nieves’ death, and Oliver was admittedly responsible for failing to save the boy’s life. He had asked for a 15-year sentence with three to serve in prison.
Rodgers ultimately landed on 20 years with eight years and nine months to serve in prison.
“We understand that Judge Rodgers felt it was the right thing to do,” Dana said after the sentencing, adding that he disagreed with her about the authenticity of Oliver’s remorse.
Oliver and Patino have a daughter together, who was removed from their custody after Nieves’ death. Oliver’s prison sentence begins immediately.