An Oklahoma City woman who beat her adult daughter to death and forced a crucifix and rosary down her throat has been sentenced to life in prison, an Oklahoma TV station reported Monday.
Juanita Gomez, 51, was convicted of the 2016 murder of her daughter Geneva Gomez, who was 33 at the time. Her attorneys plan to appeal.
In August 2016, Geneva Gomez was found dead in her home in the Plaza District of Oklahoma City, her battered body cleaned of blood and arranged in the shape of a cross, with a large crucifix on her chest.
"Juanita stated she punched her daughter repeatedly and forced a crucifix and religious medallion down her throat until blood came out of her daughter's mouth," according to documents obtained by The Oklahoman. The medical examiner ruled the victim died from blunt force trauma to the head, had multiple injuries on her body and a medallion and crucifix were lodged in her throat, according to News 9.
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Geneva Gomez's body was first seen by her fiance, Francisco Merlos, who had come after a dispute days earlier, hoping to make up with her. Her mother said she was in her room.
"You couldn't even recognize her face," he told the newspaper.
Merlos frantically tried to leave, but Juanita Gomez tried to lock him inside, then offered him a ride home before trying to get him into a chokehold, he said. He escaped and dialed 911.
Juanita Gomez told police officers that she was waiving her Miranda rights and that her daughter had been possessed by the devil.
But an Oklahoma City TV station reports that an assistant district attorney, Suzanne Lavenue, suspected the religious items were staged.
"I think she thought that maybe just the thought of an exorcism occurring, that would make somebody think perhaps she had a mental illness or was insane or something," Lavenue said.
Prosecutors speculated that the mother and daughter were selling massages "and maybe more" on Backpage, and that Merlos had objected, causing a rift that led to Geneva Gomez's murder.