Mother of murdered boy, 4, charged with felonies

An undated courtesy photo of Giovanni Mejias.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The mother of a murdered 4-year-old boy from Kent County now faces a felony charge in connection to the case.

Sonja Hernandez, 29, is charged with one count of perjury for her testimony in the case of Elis Nelson Ortiz-Nieves.

A jury last month convicted Ortiz-Nieves of murdering 4-year-old Giovanni Meijas. During his Jan. 11 sentencing, Ortiz-Nieves got into a struggle with courtroom officers as Judge Mark Trusock described the boy’s injuries. Ortiz-Nieves is now serving a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole.

Ortiz-Nieves was Hernandez’ boyfriend at the time of Giovanni’s June 13 death. He was watching seven children at the Gaines Township mobile home were authorities discovered the unconscious boy. Giovanni was rushed to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital where he died. The medical examiner determined the boy died from blunt force to his abdomen, but also found older injuries on the boy.

Hernandez was also charged with counts of second-degree child abuse. Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said those are unrelated to Giovanni’s murder.

Hernandez was arraigned Monday and her bond was set at $25,000. A competency exam has been ordered, according to a court clerk. She’s expected back in court Feb. 12 for a probable cause hearing and Feb. 19 for a preliminary exam.

If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of life in prison on the perjury charge. Each child abuse charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.