Mom convicted of strangling, starving son to death

A West Odessa woman will be spending the rest of her life in prison after being convicted of capital murder Thursday in the November 2022 death of her 8-year-old son, who weighed 35 pounds when authorities said he was strangled to death.

An Ector County jury found Megan Lange, 30, guilty of capital murder, which carries an automatic life-with-no-parole sentence. She was also convicted of injury to a child and injury to a child by omission, said Ector County District Attorney Dusty Gallivan.

The jury will return to Judge Justin Low’s courtroom Friday to sentence Lange on the child abuse charges Friday, Gallivan said. She’s facing five years to life on those counts and whatever sentence the jury settles on, they’ll run concurrently to the life sentence.

According to an Ector County Sheriff’s Office report, dispatchers received a call on Nov. 5, 2022 about an unresponsive child from the 2000 block of North Huntington Avenue and when deputies arrived, they found firefighters performing life-saving measures on Arturo Francisco Coca.

Arturo was taken to Medical Center Hospital, but life-saving measures performed there were unsuccessful.

Investigators and hospital staff noticed Arturo appeared malnourished and small for his age, according to the report. They also saw he had lacerations on his head, legs and back.

Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis told the Odessa American the boy weighed 35 pounds.

Lange told authorities Arturo had woken up after defecating and urinating on himself so she carried him to the bathroom, bathed him and took him into the living room, the report stated. She called 911, she said, because she was talking to him when his head fell back and she realized he wasn’t breathing.

Investigators learned through six other children in the home that Arturo’s stepfather, Rodolfo Reyes, 33, was also home when the boy died, the report stated.

Reyes acknowledged he was home the day Arturo died, but denied hurting him, the report stated. He later requested legal counsel and didn’t provide any other information.

At the time Griffis said Lange and Reyes attributed the boy’s death to diabetes, but a forensic pathologist ruled the cause of Arturo’s death was “asphyxiation by manual strangulation with underlying causes of neglect.” He found the boy to be malnourished and he saw hemorrhaging in his neck.

Both were arrested on suspicion of capital murder of a child under the age of 10 and injury to a child.

Reyes was later indicted on a single charge of injury to a child by omission. He was deemed incompetent to stand trial at one point and went through a competency restoration program. It’s unclear from court records what his current status is, but Ector County jail records show he remains in custody.

Last October, Reyes wrote a letter to Low saying he couldn’t hold back all of the things Lange had done to Arturo. He claimed Lange often put a jalapeno or hot sauce on the boy’s penis when he urinated on himself, put holes in the walls throughout their house by throwing Arturo at them, slap him in the face and force him to sleep in a closet and sleep standing up.

Reyes further claimed Lange told Arturo she hated him and wished he’d die.