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Mother convicted of daughter’s crucifix murder sentenced to life in prison

OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma mother who was found guilty of beating her daughter to death will spend the rest of her life behind bars.

Last month, it took the jury just minutes to convict 51-year-old Juanita Gomez of first-degree murder for the fatal beating of her daughter, Geneva Gomez.

Juanita Gomez, Oklahoma County Jail

In August of 2016, 33-year-old Geneva was found lying on the ground of her mother’s home with her body placed in the position of a cross with a large crucifix placed on her chest.

Rosary beads, a crucifix and a religious medallion were also found lodged in her throat and mouth.

“You would think maybe putting a photograph of her child on the presenter would trigger some emotion, but it didn’t appear to,” said Oklahoma County Assistant District Attorney Suzanne Lavenue after the trial.

Gevena’s boyfriend, Frankie Merlos, found her lifeless body and told News 4 in a 2016 interview the images would be embedded in his head forever.

“I just can’t believe a mother would do that to her own daughter, you know? For what? And, just left her there like it was nothing,” he said in 2016.

Juanita told police she thought her daughter was “possessed by the devil” and forced a crucifix down her throat, watching her die.

During witness testimony, Medical Examiner Dr. Clay Nichols told the jury one of the contributing factors of death was blunt force trauma to the face and head.

The state's position was the rosary beads and medallion found in Geneva's mouth were staged by Juanita.

"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.

 

On Monday, the judge agreed with the jury's recommendation and sentenced Gomez to life in prison without the possibility of parole.