A La Habra mother accused of throwing her infant son from a Children’s Hospital of Orange County parking structure was convicted of murder on Wednesday, setting up a second phase of the trial to determine whether she was sane at the time of the killing.
An Orange County Superior Court jury found Sonia Hermosillo, 41, guilty of murder and assault on a child for the 2011 death of 7-month-old Noe Medina Jr. Since Hermosillo pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, the same jury will return for a subsequent “sanity” phase of the trial.
During the initial guilt phase of the trial, Deputy District Attorney Mena Guirguis told jurors that Hermosillo planned to kill the boy and later told police investigators that she didn’t love him and wanted him to die. The baby had been receiving regular treatments at CHOC for a congenital problem that left his neck twisted to one side and for flat-head syndrome.
“He was sick and his mother didn’t want him,” Guirguis said. “She made a cold-hearted decision to kill her child.”
Hermosillo, who had two older daughters with her husband, struggled with her mental health after the boy’s birth, according to testimony during the trial. Family members made efforts to prevent Hermosillo from being alone with the baby, and at one point she was placed in a treatment facility on a mental health hold.
On the afternoon of Aug. 22, 2011, she took the boy and left her home while her husband was taking a shower. She drove 30 minutes, to the hospital parking lot in Orange.
Hermosillo went to the fourth floor of the parking structure, took off a helmet the baby was wearing to help with his development issues and threw him off the building, the prosecutor said. As doctors and nurses rushed out to help the infant, prosecutors say Hermosillo drove off, stopping to validate her parking.
Hermosillo was arrested hours later. In an interview with detectives she described having “hate, resentment and anger” toward the boy “because he’s sick.”
“She was fed up, she had enough,” the prosecutor told jurors on Wednesday morning. “It’s not a good reason, a reason we can wrap our heads around, but it was her reason.”
Defense attorney Jacqueline Goodman described Hermosillo as being delusional and suffering from a psychotic break at the time of her son’s death and the police interviews.
“This is not a sick baby, it is a baby that gestated too long and needed some physical therapy,” Goodman told jurors on Wednesday. “He was getting better.”
Hermosillo, a mother who had devoted her life to her family, had barely been eating or sleeping and was often catatonic or wandering off, the defense attorney said. She repeated “I don’t love him” over and over, dozens of times, during the police interview, Goodman noted.
“That is not a confession, it is mental illness,” the defense attorney said.
The second phase of the trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 24. If Hermosillo is found sane she faces 25-years-to-life in prison.
Source: Orange County Register