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Mother whose 11-month old baby drowned in bathtub sentenced to prison

Posted at 12:29 PM, Jul 17, 2019

The mother of a baby who was found dead in a bathtub is heading to prison.

Celeste Gonzalez, 25, was sentenced to eight years in prison this morning.

Gonzalez was supposed to be arraigned on charges of child endangerment, child abandonment and sexual assault.

During this morning's hearing, Elizabeth Tagle, a prosecutor with the Nueces County District Attorney's Office, announced the state decided to dismiss the sexual assault charge.

Instead, she waived her arraignment and Tagle announced the Nueces County District Attorney's Office offered Gonzalez a plea deal.

If she pleaded guilty to the charges of child endangerment and child abandonment, they would recommend the court sentence her to eight years in prison.

Judge Missy Medary was apprehensive of approving the plea deal.

"You have a child that is dead. Let me understand why the state is offering eight years on this case," Judge Medary pleaded.

Judge Missy Medary sentenced Celeste Gonzalez to 8 years in prison for the drowning of her 11-month old son.

Tagle explained that on July 26, 2018, Gonzalez had just returned home from working the night before. Her 2-year-old son had soiled himself. So, she placed him in the bathtub to clean himself up and to play and she left the water running. She then laid down in bed with her 11-month-old son and fell asleep.

"She left the water running knowing that the bathroom would clog sometimes," Tagle added.

Tagle explained Gonzalez woke up because her 2-year-old son was tugging on her and pointing to the bathroom. That was when she found her 11-month old son face down in the tub, then Gonzalez realized her younger son made his way to the tub while she was asleep. She called for help.

Her 16-year-old boyfriend was in the apartment playing video games and had headphones on and wasn't aware of what was going on.

When officers arrived, they found synthetic marijuana in the apartment. Gonzalez admitted to smoking it the night before.

"We believe she called for help immediately when she discovered her 11-month-old based on the time and did everything that she was supposed to do at that point. All evidence points to that," Tagle explained.

Stephen Byrne represented Gonzalez during today's hearing.

"This is obviously horrible for everybody. This is not what she wanted to happen," Byrne said, "We think that this case can be proved not with intentional or knowing evidence but that the evidence points to that she's either reckless or she was less than reckless. She was grossly negligent in what she did. It's a horrible circumstance."

He added that under the plea deal Gonzalez would go to prison.

Medary wasn't convinced.

"This is a sad case all around. You have an 11-month-old that will never have a life because of the negligence of that 11-month-old's mom. but I don't like the fact that synthetic marijuana was also found," Medary said.

Gonzalez cried through most of the hearing. Judge Medary addressed her.

"I understand you have the loss of your child but you also have that child not being able to have a life because of your actions," Medary said. "I think that you have been punished by that."

Judge Medary sentenced Gonzalez to eight years in prison with credit for time served.

"Miss Gonzalez, I don't need to tell you to think about your actions because I think you have every single day you've been in jail. Good luck," Judge Medary told her.

If Gonzalez had gone on trial, she would have faced two to 20 years in prison for both charges.