Charges upgraded against dad of starved tot

A West Oak Lane man accused of starving his disabled 3-year-old daughter to death will soon face a first-degree murder charge.

Assistant District Attorney Richard Sax announced plans to upgrade Carlos Rivera's charges from third-degree murder to a general murder charge during a court hearing this morning. The change means Rivera, if convicted of first- or second-degree murder, would be sentenced to death penalty or life in prison without parole.

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Rivera

Sax said he sought the change because Rivera, 30, was Nathalyz Rivera's primary caregiver in the last weeks of her life and his alleged abuse was a "course of conduct." Nathalyz' mother, Carmen Ramirez, 27, also has been charged with third-degree murder and related offenses. Police said she didn't live full-time at the trash-filled home and was known to come and go in the weeks before Nathalyz died.

The blind, disabled 3-year-old was severely emaciated, weighing just 11 pounds when she died Sept. 9, police said. Her body was covered in bruises and scarred with bites from rodents and bugs, and she hadn't seen a doctor in more than a year.

Rivera's attorney, Bobby Hoof, asked Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Dawn A. Segal to order a mental competency evaluation of Rivera, and Segal scheduled a Oct. 8 hearing to hear the results. She continued the couple's preliminary hearing until Dec. 3.

"He seems to be a stand-up guy," Hoof said of Rivera. "He loved his children. He cared for his children."

Sax, hearing of Hoof's comments, responded: "You're kidding me!"

Rivera and Ramirez are being held without bail. After Nathalyz's death, city social workers placed her twin and three older siblings in foster care.

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