A Tucson woman convicted of starving her toddler to death and leaving his remains in an abandoned toy chest will spend the rest of her life in prison.

Raquel Marcella Barreras was sentenced on Monday to life in prison without possibility of parole plus an additional 24 years. 

A jury found Barreras, 44, guilty of first-degree felony murder and one count of child abuse earlier this year. 

The day before her trial in May, Barreras pleaded guilty to four other charges in the case, including abandoning or concealing a dead body as well as three counts of child abuse. 

Barreras' sentences for those convictions will run concurrently to the life sentence. The additional 24-year sentence is in connection with the child abuse conviction. 

Her youngest child, 3-year-old Roman Barreras, is believed to have died sometime between the spring of 2013 and January 2014. His remains were found after his family was evicted from a rental unit in the 700 block of West Idaho Street.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

During the trial, Assistant Public Defender Cynthia Yializis blamed he state's Department of Child Safety for not checking back on Barreras' children. 

The department took Roman and three of his older siblings from his parents after he was born in July 2010 due to drug exposure, but returned Roman to his father about a year later. 

Barreras was not supposed to be around her children because she had not complied with the DCS case plan. Her husband, who complied with the plan, allowed Barreras to return to the home. 

Martin Barreras, 50, is facing similar charges as Raquel Barreras and has a trial scheduled for August 6. 

Contact reporter Stephanie Casanova at scasanova@tucson.com. On Twitter: @CasanovaReports


Stephanie is a Tucson native and graduated from the University of Arizona in 2014. She worked for newspapers in Rapid City, South Dakota; Manhattan, Kansas; and Lake Havasu City before moving back to Tucson.