A DeKalb County grandmother accused of beating a 3-year-old to death with a pipe was granted $25,000 bond Tuesday.
Selena Denise Rivera, 42, was arrested earlier this month after the Aug. 21 death of her granddaughter Neveah Pinckney.
Prosecutors on Tuesday echoed the findings of an autopsy that stated Neveah died from blunt force trauma.
“The autopsy revealed several horrendous injuries,” DeKalb County Assistant District Attorney Lee Williams told the court. “The impact was to the left side of the head. There was hemorrhaging all over the body, even to the head.”
Williams also described bruising and scarring to the child’s buttocks, legs, chest and left arm and cuts over her eye and nose.
“The injuries were consistent with a child being held by the left arm and repeatedly beaten about the back, the buttocks, the legs and even the head with a foreign object,” she said.
Rivera’s defense attorney, Corinne Mull, pointed out that her client had never been in trouble with the law and had cooperated fully with police since the child’s death.
“She came to our office before the arrest, so she was well aware that she was going to be arrested,” Mull said. “Ms. Rivera remained in town after [Neveah’s] death. She told police, ‘The child was my responsibility.’”
On Aug. 21, Rivera found Neveah with her eyes rolling back in her head and a white foam coming from her nose, and rushed the child to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where she was pronounced dead.
Prosecutors cautioned police not to arrest Rivera too hastily, Williams said.
Two weeks earlier, she had taken Neveah to the hospital for falling down in the shower, Mull said.
Rivera moved to the metro area from Florida with Neveah and two other children, ages 8 and 5.
Williams said investigators questioned the two older children, and eventually got a story from the 8-year-old.
“Initially, they wouldn’t say anything because they were so … upset over what had happened,” she said. “But there’s an audio recording of the 8-year-old saying, ‘My grandmother beat my little sister with a black stick and put her in the closet.’”
The older children are in the custody of the state Department of Family and Children’s Services.
Mull pleaded with DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Mark Anthony Scott to be lenient on Rivera, who has been in the DeKalb County jail since her Sept. 10 arrest.
“She hasn’t seen the children since this happened,” Mull said. “She’s been grieving all this time.”
Scott asked the two lawyers to negotiate a bond, and they agreed on $25,000, as long as two of Rivera’s relatives signed for the bond.
“She’s a 42-year-old woman who does not have an arrest record,” Scott said. “I’m not saying she’s guilty or innocent, but I want to be fair.”
Rivera was granted a signature bond which she, her mother and daughter signed. If the defendant is released, they will be held responsible for assuring that the defendant returns for subsequent court dates.