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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Sophia Monique Zayas Sentenced to 15 Years for Conviction on Child Abuse Resulting in Great Bodily Harm Charge That Resulted in the Death of Her Two-Month Infant

Husband Scheduled for Sentencing on Oct. 2, 2018 on Negligent Child Abuse Conviction

ALBUQUERQUE – Senior U.S. District Judge Robert C. Brack sentenced Sophia Monique Zayas, 36, this afternoon in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to 15 years of imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release for her conviction on a child abuse resulting in great bodily harm charge.  Sophia Zayas’ conviction arose out of conduct occurring on October 21 and 22, 2007, that resulted in the death of her two-month-old daughter.  Judge Brack sentenced Sophia Zayas based on a guilty plea entered on Feb. 24, 2014.

U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge James C. Langenberg of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division, and Special Agent in Charge Nicholas J. Dorval of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 814, announced Sophia Zayas’ sentence. 

The FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations arrested Sophia Zayas, 32, and her husband Peter John Zayas, 33, in April 2012 on charges that between Oct. 21, 2007 and Oct. 22, 2007, the couple caused the death of their two-month-old infant daughter.  In Nov. 2012, a 16-count superseding indictment was filed charging the couple with second-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, child abuse resulting in great bodily harm, and other child abuse-related offenses.  At the time of the offenses alleged in the superseding indictment, Peter Zayas was a sergeant with the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base.

On Feb. 24, 2014, Sophia Zayas pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in great bodily harm and admitted that from Aug. 16, 2007 through Oct. 22, 2007, she placed her daughter in a situation, which endangered the infant’s life.  In her plea agreement, Sophia Zayas admitted that the infant suffered posterior transverse skull fractures, rib fractures, and radius and ulna fractures as a result of her conduct.  The infant died of her injuries on Oct. 22, 2007.

Peter Zayas pleaded guilty to negligent child abuse five-days earlier, on Feb. 19, 2014.  In his plea agreement, Peter Zayas admitted that from Aug. 16, 2007 through Oct. 22, 2007, he permitted his infant to be in a situation that endangered her life knowing that there was a foreseeable risk that she would be physically harmed or killed by leaving her in Sophia Zayas’ care knowing that Sophia Zayas had a history of alcohol abuse.  Peter Zayas acknowledged that the infant died on Oct. 22, 2007, as a result of his negligence because it was foreseeable to him that leaving the infant in Sophia Zayas’ care could lead to harm given her alcohol consumption and binge drinking during the Oct. 14, 2007 through Oct. 22, 2007. 

Sophia Zayas and Peter Zayas have been in federal custody since their arrests.  Peter Zayas is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 2, 2018.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maria Y. Armijo and John A. Balla of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.

Project Safe Childhood
Updated September 27, 2018