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.
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.
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.