July 2002, 5-month old Brianna Lopez, born premature in February of that year in Las Cruces, New Mexico, died a brutal death after suffering some of the most horrific abuse I have ever heard a child having to endure.
In her short 5 months of life, she was pinched, thrown in the air, slammed on the ground, repeatedly bitten and sexually penetrated by her father and uncle.
An autopsy showed her anus and vagina were both injured. She had a significant abrasion on her buttocks, which went all the way into the buttocks, that was consistent with sexual assault. Immediately after she was pronounced dead, a nurse observed that her anus gaped open with no muscle tone. The autopsy revealed her anal opening was dilated to a full inch. Internal examination showed an injury a half-inch to an inch inside the anal opening and vaginal injuries inside the labia minora, including three small injuries to the hymen.
Her small body was literally covered from head to toe in bruises and bite marks. She also had older injuries that included fractures to her skull and legs.
From the Facebook Page dedicated to her, we read, “On the night of her death she had been thrown to the ceiling and hit the floor three times and also sexually penetrated. When authorities found her it shocked them so badly they needed counseling. Her father and uncle had raped her and were also the ones who threw her to the ceiling without catching her during a night of drinking. Her mother caused the many bite marks on different occasions and also pinched Brianna when she became frustrated with her baby. Briannas father, Andy Walters would throw her when he became frustrated. On Friday July 19th at 10:00am Brianas mother Stephanie Lopez, woke to find Brianna not breathing and called 911. On Friday July 19th at 11:10am 5 month old baby Brianna Lopez passed away at Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces from the injuries that were a result of this abuse.”
This poor little girl never felt a single second of love or affection in her short 5 months of life.
Brianna’s father and uncle were sentenced to 57 and 51 years in prison, respectively, for raping and killing the girl. Her mother received 27 years for negligence that led to the girl’s death.
In 2006, the convictions of these three monsters were overturned after lawyers for the three filed an Appeal with the New Mexico Supreme Court, claiming that because the three had been tried together and had provided evidence against one another, their right to cross examine their accusers had been violated. The Justices agreed, and overturned all three defendant’s convictions.
In June 2007, the mother’s conviction was reinstated.
In September 2007, the convictions of the father and uncle were reinstated on most counts.
That these three still breathe is a travesty itself, but they are all locked away in prison, for now.
The outrage in Las Cruces was astounding as was the sympathy and guilt the community felt over this poor child.
The only photo of her is one filled will bruises taken after her death just prior to her autopsy. By digitally removing the bruises, a decent photo of this child was made where she appears sleeping.
As if not abused enough in life, no one came forward to claim Brianna’s body, so the community banded together and claimed her, giving her a decent burial. Then, remaining family members came forward and decided to claim this poor child’s grave, erected a cage around her grave to keep community members who would erect a headstone as well as keep flowers on her grave, out.
Even in death this poor child’s memory is to be refused a little caring and affection, if the remaining family continues.
In a rare move for me, I am linking to a petition I would encourage everyone to sign to encourage the New Mexico Courts to legally remove that cage and allow well wishers to pay homage to this poor child, dead now for 7 years.
The family did nothing for this child in life and now, in death they continue in doing nothing for her, not even a few flowers or a decent headstone. Photos of the caged grave can be seen HERE, scroll down.
Please visit Remove The Cage and help get this cage removed from this child’s grave.