MIAMI — Patricia Ripley, the Miami mother accused of pushing her 9-year-old son with autism into a canal to drown, pleaded not guilty late last week.

Miami-Dade prosecutors, still waiting for a grand jury to reconvene amid the coronavirus pandemic, filed a “notice of intent” to seek an indictment of first-degree murder, which means she would face the death penalty if convicted.

During last week’s arraignment, prosecutor Gail Levine announced Ripley is also facing charges of attempted murder, kidnapping, aggravated child abuse and filing a false police report. Ripley, who remains jailed, did not appear during the brief Zoom hearing. Ripley pleaded not guilty through her attorney, Susy Ribero-Ayala.

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Ripley, 45, is accused of murdering Alejandro Ripley on May 20. The death of Alejandro, who had severe autism and could not speak, has enraged the public — along with Ripley’s bogus report to Miami-Dade police that two black men kidnapped the boy after running her off the road that night.

After Ripley made the report, state authorities immediately issued an Amber Alert for the missing child, but investigators quickly grew suspicious because she gave shifting versions of what happened. Alejandro’s body was found in a canal near the Miccosukee Golf & Country Club, at Southwest 138th Court and 62nd Street, about four miles from where the alleged abduction took place.

Miami-Dade homicide detectives immediately learned that Ripley, earlier in the evening, had been seen with the boy at another spot along a canal. Video footage showed her pushing the boy into the water — but a bystander rescued the boy.

Police say Ripley, when confronted, eventually confessed that her story was bogus and that she led the boy to the canal where he ultimately died. “He’s going to be in a better place,” she allegedly told homicide detectives.

Ripley has been jailed since her arrest.

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