A Victoria father accepted what comfort he could when a woman was sentenced to 12 years in prison Wednesday for her role in the death of his 9-month-old son.
"I feel like we can finally put this chapter behind us and move on and let my son have the peace he deserves," said Michael Rene Sanchez Sr., 33.
Sanchez's son, Michael Rene Sanchez Jr., was found dead in his crib Oct. 6, 2013.
The child's mother, Mickey Wylie Bess, 31, of San Antonio, was charged with injury to a child causing serious bodily injury by recklessness or by omission, a second-degree felony.
As part of her plea agreement, the prosecutor agreed the range of punishment would be between a form of probation or no more than 12 years in prison.
Punishment for a second-degree felony charge is two to 20 years in prison.
A judge chose 12 years in prison, said Christopher DeMartino, a Bexar County assistant district attorney.
Bess testified Wednesday that she found the child submerged in a small pool in the backyard. The child could only crawl, so the door was possibly left open or at least the lock was broken.
Bess inferred she didn't report the child's death because she was grieving or possibly in shock. She dried, clothed and rocked him. Then, she left him in his crib, where he was discovered by his grandmother the next day. That's the same day Bess went with her two other children and a male acquaintance to SeaWorld, DeMartino said.
"I think it's arguable that she believed the baby was OK. The baby - as far as we know - was already deceased when he was discovered," he said. "Nothing can take away from the death of a child, but you have to look at the circumstances in this case and understand that based upon the evidence, I believe we could prove she was reckless versus intentional or knowing."
Sanchez shares custody of his and Bess' two other children - Zander Bess, 4, and Bobby Sanchez, 3 - with the children's paternal grandfather.
Sanchez said Bess' version of events as told on the stand Wednesday still "don't add up."
"The family has come together a lot more. We've just tried to make the best of the situation and make sure the other two boys are well taken care of," Sanchez said. "They should have a good life, and I want to provide that for them."
Bess was represented by John Young, a San Antonio attorney who could not be reached for comment.