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Graphic details of infant's injuries fill second day of Maribel S. trial

Graphic details of infant's injuries fill second day of Maribel S. trial

maribel trial

Maribel S., 15, of Santa Maria, is being tried for first-degree murder in the death of her newborn baby. She is seated next to her court-certified language interpreter at the Santa Maria Juvenile Court during a recent hearing.

Testimony during the second day of trial for a teenage girl charged with murder in the death of her newborn, focused on blood evidence found in the home, a video interview between the teen and police, and the baby's autopsy results.

Maribel S., 15, of Santa Maria, is charged with one count of first-degree murder for allegedly using a knife to kill her newborn baby boy in January. Judge Arthur Garcia is presiding over the case, with Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Karapetian prosecuting and Deputy Public Defender Lea Villegas representing the teen.

Multiple witnesses were called to testify Wednesday, including a Marian Regional Medical Center nurse, a forensic pathologist and crime technicians. 

During the testimony, the infant's first name was said to be Anthony. 

Registered nurse Patricia Cano, of Marian Regional Medical Center, said that Maribel came to the hospital Jan. 17 to get help, after complaining of vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain.

During a visual scan, staff noticed an umbilical cord still attached to Maribel's body, then asked for her last menses date and whether she might be pregnant. Maribel was pale, frightened and unsure of herself, testified Cano.

Under defense attorney Villegas's cross examination, Cano said that she wouldn't have known that Maribel was pregnant when she came to the hospital that day. 

Santa Maria Police crime technician Angela Jorge testified that blood evidence was found in the bathroom of Maribel's apartment on Jan. 20, after a luminol test was conducted that shows any blood drops that have been wiped clean. The test resulted in glowing blue speckles on the bathroom door, wall and floor. 

A video clip that contained footage of Maribel at her home being interviewed by police shortly after the incident was played in the courtroom. The video showed Maribel reenacting what she did to the baby after delivery, holding a baby doll and a pen that represented a knife. 

Maribel sat gingerly on the toilet, holding the doll on her knee after, she said, the baby fell into the toilet. She then asked her brother for a plastic bag and a knife, to attempt to cut the umbilical cord. 

"Show me how you did it; you told Detective Brice how you did it," the officer was heard saying.

"I went like this, and this; I didn't know what to do," said Maribel, making sawing motions on the doll, indicating that the knife slipped across the baby's neck. The blood from the umbilical cord then splattered onto the wall. 

While watching herself on screen crying while speaking with the officer, Maribel, seated next to her attorney in the courtroom, put her head down and began to cry, as Villegas put her arm around her client.

Dr. Manuel Montez, forensic pathologist and physician with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office testified that the autopsy conducted on baby Anthony on Jan. 19, showed the baby was alive at childbirth.

The cause of death, said Montez, was sharp force injury of the neck, and the manner of death was determined to be non-natural; a homicide that occurred at the hands of another individual.

Montez said the autopsy showed that the baby was alive when it sustained injuries to the neck, because there was air found in its lungs and stomach showing the infant physically took a breath. The placenta and umbilical cord also looked to be functioning normally.

Baby Anthony also sustained a vital reaction hemorrhage that indicates a person was alive when they were injured. The purple discoloration on the tissue shows blood flow, a sign of vital reaction, said Montez.  

A gaping incision wound was found across the front and side of the infant's neck, along with carotid arteries, blood vessels and neck structures all of which were cut. The trachea was severed in half. The wounds on the neck were perpendicular, and were cut down to the bone, he said. 

"What was interesting to note about the autopsy," said Montez, "was that it was bloodless. No blood was left in the baby, not even enough blood for further testing." 

Testimony in the case continues Thursday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at the Santa Maria Juvenile Court.

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210


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