A man who was charged in the 2018 death of his great niece in Lawrence, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in court Thursday, prosecutors said.
A judge accepted Miguel Rivera's guilty plea to charges of manslaughter, aggravated rape of a child and distributing drugs in Lawrence Superior Court, according to the Essex District Attorney's Office. The 62-year-old was sentenced to 25 to 27 years in prison, followed by five more years of probation.
"This was a senseless killing of a child that robbed the victim's family and friends of the opportunity to watch her grow up," District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said in a statement. "Nothing we can do will bring their loved one back but we hope today's plea gives them some closure."
Rivera, from Lawrence, was arrested on charges of permitting serious bodily injury to a child and misleading investigators in the death of Precious Wallaces, an 11-year-old from Haverhill. He was later charged with raping a child by force.
The victim was not identified in court, but prosecutors have said the charge stemmed from the autopsy of Precious, his great niece, who died at a hospital days after she was found unresponsive.
Few details were initially released about what led to Precious' death. Authorities said the Haverhill middle schooler had been staying with Rivera at a Jackson Street rooming house with another child.
An autopsy later found that Precious had fentanyl in her system when she died. Police said he waited 13 minutes before calling 911 as he flushed drugs down the toilet.
Rivera told police he feared Precious had taken his prescription sleeping pills and he didn't call 911 right away because he was "scared." His family said he watched Precious every weekend and loved her.