By JUAN A. LOZANO Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) — A woman on Wednesday agreed to a 52-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in the 2021 death of her boyfriend’s 5-year-old Houston son, whose body she had kept hidden in a storage unit before it was discovered in an East Texas hotel, according to prosecutors.
During a court hearing, Theresa Balboa, 31, pleaded guilty to murder in the death of Samuel Olson. Her plea was part of an agreement with prosecutors, who reduced the charge against her from capital murder to murder.
“This woman robbed the world of a little boy with a big smile and bright future, and there is no prison sentence long enough for someone like her,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement.
Anthony Osso, Balboa’s attorney, said his client will be eligible for parole after serving half her sentence.
“She didn’t want to put the victim’s family through a trial, nor did she want to risk dying in prison ultimately. She has some light at the end of the tunnel with this alternative,” Osso said in a telephone interview following the hearing.
Balboa did not say anything during Wednesday’s court hearing.
Sarah Olson, Samuel’s mother, disagreed with the prison sentence Balboa received.
“Today she admitted to what she did, for 52 years and the chance of parole in 26. My son did not even get six years of life and she still gets a chance at one? This is not justice,” Sarah Olson told reporters after the hearing.
Andy Kahan, the director of victim services and advocacy for Crime Stoppers of Houston, said he and others will fight any efforts to release Balboa on parole
“And 26 years from now, God forbid, we’ll be there and make sure that she never breathes free air again,” Kahan said.
Prosecutors said Balboa, who had been dating Samuel’s father, had been watching the boy in her suburban Houston apartment when she hit him with a “blunt object” on May 12, 2021. Samuel would have turned 6 on May 29, 2021.
Neither the weapon used to kill the boy or a motive for his death were ever determined, according to prosecutors.
Balboa reported Samuel missing on May 27, 2021, initially claiming the boy’s mother and a man who presented himself as a police officer had taken the boy. Samuel’s parents had been involved in a bitter custody battle since filing for divorce in January 2020.
Authorities said Samuel’s body was kept in a bathtub at Balboa’s apartment until she and her roommate put it in a plastic tote and hid it in a storage unit. The body was later moved to a motel in Jasper, about 135 miles (215 kilometers) northeast of Houston.
Balboa’s roommate and a friend who helped her move the body to the motel in Jasper were each charged with evidence tampering counts.