Paula Moore had relaxed restrictions to the point where she allowed the families to contact each other freely and to meet elsewhere than at Child Haven. Gonzales was also able to call and speak to her baby and foster family from Clark County Detention Center. If not for those facts, for Gonzales and her family to hear the vicious accusations that were hurled at Gonzales, compounded with exaggerations of the baby’s medical condition described in Rinetti’s outrageous performance, it would have been devastating. Rinetti stressed that the baby suffered a midline shift, indicating that she never read the final report from the hospital dated 7/16/2013, which clearly stated: “Previously noted midline shift has resolved.” Rinetti’s vehemence went so far as to say that Gonzales was just lucky she wasn’t being tried for murder.
Judge Sullivan would never see the motion prepared by John Piro, as Rinetti had an Alford Plea to present to Gonzales and her attorneys.
In addition, it was quite obvious that Rinetti and Judge Sullivan were friends, laughing together during the “off” periods; and it was obvious the honorable judge was annoyed at the defense side for taking so long after having been presented with said plea. It had to be decided whether or not to even consider, as taking a plea would be seen as an admission of guilt — although it would equally admit to being very, very scared for your life and that of your family.
The circumstances leading to the Alford Plea were as follows: If Gonzales chose to go to trial and were to lose, she could get anywhere from a two- to 20-year prison sentence, with absolutely no chance whatsoever of probation, plus no lowering of bail. Her jury trial date might not come up for another year and she would remain incarcerated until then. It was also pointed out to her that jurors may not have any sympathy for a person with a charge of child abuse. If she chose to accept the Alford Plea, her bail would go back down to $10,000.00, so she would instead be under house arrest for the next four months until her sentencing date. During four months on house arrest she would be able to look for a job, work, and take her CPS classes; plus, there existed the possibility of being granted probation; or, worst case scenario, one to six years in prison. Her attorneys believed that with her lack of a past record, provided she did everything that she was supposed to do, she stood a good chance of getting probation.
Gonzales was given six days to decide. John Piro then asked Judge Diane Sullivan about visitation with her children during the four months of house arrest. Sullivan answered that Gonzales could have visits with her daughter through CPS, but was to have no contact at all with her baby, per Rinetti’s petition. This was also the day that Gonzales would share that unexpected shackled hug in the courtroom, with her daughter, Iyanna, after Judge Sullivan had left the courtroom. Earlier, 11-year-old Iyanna had been interrogated by Rinetti completely alone in the DA’s office until Piro learned what was going on and intervened on behalf of the child. John Piro, who had expressed to Gonzales’ mother at their first meeting that Gonzales could very well be the first innocent person that he ever had to defend, had tears streaming down his face as he exited the courtroom that day.
Also on September 13, Dena Rinetti amended the original charge of child abuse to now read: Child Abuse, Neglect or Endangerment, all classified as felonies. Gonzales, faced with the unjust choice of taking a plea bargain for a crime that she did not commit, or going to prison for several years, after already having been incarcerated for 57 days, agreed to accept the plea. Humiliating, yes, but somehow the better option when presented with no valid choice at all. The ultimate goal being to reunite with her children in the least amount of time. Bail was posted on September 20, but she was still not released from custody until Friday, September 27, 2013. Her sentencing date was set for January 23, 2014, two days after her 33rd birthday. It was obvious that the baby would have to be present in criminal court on sentencing day.
On Monday, September 30, Gonzales reported to LVMPD House Arrest Division to get her ankle monitor put on and be oriented on the parameters of her new situation. She learned that she will pay $360.00 a month for the privilege of being on house arrest. Her family agreed to cover her rent through sentencing date so that she can work to pay her house arrest and other associated fees that she will be facing.
Gonzales’ mother sends an email to Megan Dalton, Elgin’s foster mother, via Sherrie Litman, their new CPS caseworker, letting her know that Rhiannon was not allowed to have any contact with either her baby, or with them, for the next four months. The email was sent through Litman to reciprocate the respect that Litman had already shown the family by providing updates about Elgin. The wheels had already been set in motion to reunite Elgin with his family; and Litman and Gonzales had developed a case plan for his reunification with Gonzales on September 23, 2013.
In early October Gonzales began a job in telemarketing with Quality Blend, a company that distributes HGH Extreme, earning only commission. On November 11 she began another full-time telemarketing job at AGR Group, soliciting options of energy providers, which paid $9.00 an hour plus commission. Her work hours were perfect: 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., allowing her time to make all her classes and scheduled appointments. She continued to work for Quality Blend on the weekends.
She began her Nurturing Parents and Families class, which was required by CPS, and also took a class focused on raising teenagers. She kept
very busy and actually made a few work friends.
October 2013 — Gonzales appears at Family Court with the above update. Presiding Family Court Judge Robert Teuton, upon hearing the visitation stipulations placed on Gonzales in criminal court, suggests drafting a motion to present to criminal court that might allow Gonzales to have visitations with her baby, who was then 10 months old and healthy. It was agreed by Family Court Deputy District Attorney Maria Cleveland. Cleveland would later come back to advise that perhaps it was not in Gonzales’ best interest to pursue the visitation matter any further. Although it was not stated as such, the message this sent was that Chief Deputy District Attorney Dena Rinetti was not a human being to be reasoned with. John Piro had also tried to reason with Rinetti, via email, before the initial hearing ever took place, and which said email she acknowledged having read.