A New Mexico woman pleaded guilty Monday to locking her 8-year-old niece, who has developmental disabilities, in a wooden cage while she left her alone.
Cindy Patriarchias, 33, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony child abuse. Four related charged were dropped under a plea agreement.
Patriarchias and her boyfriend, Edmond Gonzales, took her three children to a movie screening at an elementary school in January. When her estranged husband arrived at the school, he asked where the 8-year-old girl was. Patriarchias said she was in a cage at home. Her husband then called police.
Authorities found a homemade wooden cage in a bedroom that was about 2.5-feet wide by 4-feet tall. The girl was inside along with a crib mattress.
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The 8-year-old, who suffers from microcephaly, did not appear to have any physical injuries.
Patriarchias’ attorney, Peter Giovannini, said his client made a mistake.
"The cage is not the issue," Giovannini said. "The issue is a lapse in judgment."
Patriarchias had attempted to adopt the girl, but was unable to reach her birth mother, police said.
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Her boyfriend Gonzales has also been in custody since January. He pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony, negligently permitting child abuse. He was sentenced to three years probation, but remains in custody for his involvement in another case.