SAN ANTONIO – While the jury was deliberating his case, Matthew Aranda, 48, fled to Mexico on May 14. He was not in court as they returned a guilty verdict of injury to a child by omission and set punishment at 20 years in prison.
Aranda claimed that his 3-year-old adopted daughter, Melody Velasquez, was injured when she fell down a flight of stairs at a home he shared with his domestic partner.
Prosecutors argued that the child's injuries did not match his account and said he waited too long to seek medical treatment for her.
Last month, Aranda was captured in Mexico and returned to the United States.
Friday morning, Judge Pat Priest sentenced him to 20 years in prison in accordance with the jury's decision.
Afterward the child's biological aunt said the sentence was a disappointment.
"I want justice for Melody," said Petra Jimenez. "And 20 years is not enough."
Jimenez said she was also disappointed with Child Protective Services.
"I have been fighting since day one to get custody of her through CPS, and they failed me", Jimenez said.
She said she was told that she and her family did not have the economic means to care for Melody.
"She suffered when she could have been with my family," Jimenez said. "She could have been with me."
Before he was sentenced, Aranda told Senior District Judge Pat Priest that he was willing to accept the sentence that the jury ordered.