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Lawrence man pleads guilty to manslaughter for death of 11-year-old great-niece in 2018

23lawrence -- Miguel Rivera, 58, during his arraignment on Jan. 22, 2019. He is held with out bail in Lawrence District Court on charges in connection with the Dec. 15 death of his niece, Precious Wallaces, 11, after she fell ill at his apartment in Lawrence. (Amanda Sabga/Pool)Amanda Sabga/Pool

A Lawrence man was sentenced to 25 to 27 years in state prison Thursday after pleading guilty to charges stemming from the death of his 11-year-old great-niece in 2018, officials said.

Miguel Rivera, 62, who had been jailed since his arrest in 2019, had previously been indicted on a charges of murder, rape and drug distribution to a minor, the Globe reported.

On Thursday, Rivera pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter, along with aggravated rape of a child by force, as well as distribution of class E drugs, according to a statement from Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office.


In addition to prison, Rivera was also sentenced to five years probation.

Responding to a medical call at Rivera’s 233 Jackson St residence on Dec. 15, 2018, emergency personnel found an 11-year old girl unresponsive and transported her to Lawrence General Hospital , the statement said. The girl was then airlifted to Tufts Medical Center in Boston, where she died two days later.

Officials later determined the girl died after being poisoned by drugs, including fentanyl, provided to her by Rivera, the Globe reported.

“This was a senseless killing of a child that robbed the victim’s family and friends of the opportunity to watch her grow up,” said Blodgett in the statement. “Nothing we can do will bring their loved one back but we hope today’s plea gives them some closure.”

Material from previous Globe stories was used in this report.

Camilo Fonseca can be reached at camilo.fonseca@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @fonseca_esq.