In killing of heroic child, plea offer pending

Osvaldo Rivera in 2012. He was arraigned on charges of slashing the throats of two children in Camden - the boy, 6, died saving his older sister. Story, B4.
Osvaldo Rivera in 2012. He was arraigned on charges of slashing the throats of two children in Camden - the boy, 6, died saving his older sister. Story, B4. (APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 08, 2014

Debbie Burgos sat outside the courtroom Monday, nervously waiting to again see the man charged with killing her son and attacking her daughter.

Osvaldo Rivera, 32, is charged with breaking into Burgos' Camden home Sept. 2, 2012, assaulting her then-12-year-old daughter and fatally slicing her 6-year-old son's throat as he intervened, allowing the girl to escape.

Dominick Andujar was found dead by Tiara, the eldest of his three sisters. He would be known as the city's youngest hero and posthumously given the Camden County Civilian Award for his courage.

In Superior Court, Burgos sat stoically as Rivera, shackled and dressed in a prison uniform, again heard the charges against him.

"Last time, I couldn't stay in there," Burgos said of Rivera's first hearing days after the attack, when her middle daughter was still fighting for her life in a hospital.

Prosecutors have offered Rivera an aggregate 65 years if he pleads guilty to the murder, attempted murder, sexual assault, and related charges against him.

Rivera's attorney has not responded to the offer, and a pretrial conference was set for Feb. 3, when a trial date would be set.

In March, Rivera was charged with sexually assaulting a 2-year-old in August 2012 - a case unrelated to Dominick's murder.

Lab results connected Rivera and DNA taken from the victims, prosecutors have said.

Burgos said she would prefer Rivera go to trial so he could face the maximum penalty. In the meantime, she's back at work and focusing on planning a Sweet 16 birthday for Tiara in April.

The celebration will include a large memorial candle for Dominick and photos of the smiling siblings.

"She was like his mother," Burgos said, a tattoo of her bright-eyed son now etched on her right forearm. "She wants him there at the party."


jterruso@phillynews.com

856-779-3876 @juliaterruso

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