DALLAS - A North Texas pastor will spend 99 years in prison for starving a 2-year-old boy because his parents believed he was possessed by a demon.
Aracely Meza was convicted on Friday of felony injury to a child causing serious bodily injury. The 52-year-old was then given a 99-year sentence and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.
According to police documents, Meza was the leader of a controversial church that operated out of a home in Balch Springs. In 2015, she was arrested for allegedly ordering her followers to deny food to 2-year-old Benjamin Aparicio.
Several of them said they tried to feed him, but were scolded by Meza and the other pastors of the church who believed he was possessed by a demon, the documents say.
The boy eventually died and a ceremony was held in the living room to bring him back to life with prayer. When that didn’t work, the church leader told the boy’s parents God said to take his body to Mexico, according to the documents.
During Meza’s trial, jurors watched video of her spanking the boy, who appeared weak on the kitchen floor. They also saw his lifeless body in video of the resurrection ceremony that she led.
She testified that she was acting on God’s orders.
The boy’s parents are also facing charges for his death but authorities believe they have fled to Mexico. His body is also believed to have been taken to Mexico.