SAN ANTONIO, TX – A 38-year-old San Antonio woman is in the middle of a custody battle as she awaits trial for the murder of her four-year-old daughter. She could essentially get access to her 11-month-old son if the father is granted custody.
According to the San Antonio Police Department, back in September of 2017, Jessica Briones waked into an SAPD police station carrying her daughter Olivia. The child was limp and unresponsive.
Olivia was rushed to the hospital where medical staff determined she was severely underweight and would die a day later at University Hospital. Doctors also observed obvious head trauma, a black eye, fractured vertebrae, a deflated lung.
The subsequent investigation revealed Olivia had multiple injuries including eight scars in various stages of healing on her scalp.
Investigators described numerous injuries like a swollen right wrist and arm, a swollen left arm around the elbow, a bruised ankle, and an abrasion on the back of her head.
The cause of death was determined to be a severe blow to the head after the medical examiner found multiple sites of bleeding in her head and evidence of swelling of the brain.
When questioned by police, Briones claimed Oliva fell and hit her head a couple of days prior. She also claimed she had accidentally slammed the child's arm in the door.
Briones told police Olivia had been throwing up a lot after falling multiple times. A search of the family home found a clear bowl filled with vomit near Olivia's bed.
Briones was originally charged with felony injury to a child, but the charge was later upgraded to capital murder. She was released after posting a bond.
The second child was born last year and placed in foster care with a woman identified as Noemy Cadena.
Cadena told local media she met Briones while she was pregnant and working at a San Antonio restaurant. According to the woman Briones never really talked about the investigation and painted the case as more of child endangerment.
When Briones was six months pregnant she contacted Cadena and asked if she would take temporary custody of her child after the birth.
Cadena accepted the proposal and began taking the necessary steps to become a foster present. She was granted temporary custody of the baby boy just before he turned two months old.
“He calls me mama. Something I didn’t teach him, because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” said Cadena.
Briones is currently banned from having access to her son but continues to play an important role in determining permanent custody.
After a DNA test established the baby's paternity, the father began visiting the child as he continued his relationship with Briones.
During a court hearing, the baby's father told the judge he believed Briones was innocent and had shared pictures of the baby with the mother.
The custody issue could be decided as early as July as his mother awaits trial for allegedly killing his sister.