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MIAMI (AP) – Taxpayer dollars will help cover the costs of defending a Florida woman charged with first degree murder in the drowning of her 9-year-old autistic son.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Daryl Trawick ruled in an order issued Thursday that Patricia Ripley, 46, was destitute for certain charges, including depositions, private investigators and experts specializing in the attempt to keep the defendants off death row in Florida, the Miami Herald reported. Similar death penalty cases have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in experts, investigators and other expenses.

Prosecutors objected, noting that his family owns an expensive house in South Florida and land in the Dominican Republic.

Ripley is still responsible for paying the $ 300,000 billed by his private attorneys. If the judge finds her indigent for attorney fees, she will be represented by the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office.

Ripley is accused of the death in May 2020 of Alejandro Ripley, who suffered from severe autism and was unable to speak. She is charged with first degree murder and several other crimes. She remains in prison pending trial. She pleaded not guilty.

Patricia Ripley initially called 911 and said two black men took her son after chasing her off a road south of Miami, police said. An Amber Alert was issued for the boy. The child’s body was found the next day in a canal a few kilometers from the area where she said the kidnapping took place.

Investigators were initially wary of the evolution of Ripley’s accounts of what had happened. They learned that earlier that evening, Ripley was caught on surveillance cameras pushing the boy into a canal, authorities said. A spectator saved the boy from the water.

Police said the mother pushed the child into the water at a different location again about an hour later and he drowned.

When police confronted Ripley, they said, she admitted to making up the kidnapping story. She also admitted to taking the child to the canal where he died and said, “He’s going to be in a better place,” according to the police report.

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