Mexican rape victim sentenced for murdering her baby in California
October 13, 2016
A teenage female illegal immigrant who was raped and impregnated in Mexico on her journey to California received a prison sentence of 10 years to life on Wednesday for killing her newborn daughter. [Fresno Bee]
Gloria Santos Mendoza, 19, left her native Oaxaca, Mexico to live in Madera with her brother. Prior to crossing the border, she was raped in Tijuana. Mendoza arrived in Madera days before giving birth.
In early 2014, Mendoza went to the hospital with postpartum bleeding, but denied having given birth. However, authorities later found the baby’s body stuffed in a cabinet under the bathroom sink at her brother’s home. The body was wrapped in plastic and blankets.
Autopsy results showed the baby suffered puncture wounds. Madera County District Attorney David Linn said the newborn was stabbed to death.
Mendoza was 17 when she first appeared in court on the murder charge. Prosecutors tried her as an adult, though.
Nevertheless, some prosecutors are reluctant to prosecute new mothers because of issues with postpartum depression.
At one point the sexual assault was considered to be a gang rape, but there is no evidence of that, the prosecutor said. Linn also noted that Mendoza could get free health care, mental health counseling and English lessons while in prison.
Linn said he took trauma into consideration while making the plea deal. The district attorney’s office could have pursued a sentence of 21 years to life by taking the case to trial.
It is likely Mendoza could be released after her first parole hearing in six years. She would then immediately be deported back to Oaxaca, where her mother lives.
“Justice compelled us to give her less time so she can get on with her life at a relatively young age,” Linn said. “I think it was the right decision.”
In Santa Maria, another teen is currently on trial for killing her newborn. The Santa Maria teen is also accused of stabbing to death her baby and hiding the body in a bathroom cabinet.
The Santa Maria teen, too, has reportedly endured trauma, including rape. Her lawyers is arguing she did not murder the newborn; rather the baby died as a result of her pregnancy denial, a physical condition that may have prevented the girl from recognizing she was actually pregnant.