Not guilty plea in Madera shaken baby case

August 31, 2012 12:37:37 AM PDT
The woman accused of violently shaking her neighbor's five-month-old son pleaded not guilty to child abuse charges. Investigators say Natividad Reyes, 34, left the little boy blind and partially deaf.

Natividad Reyes had help from a Spanish language interpreter as she pleaded not guilty to two child abuse charges Thursday. But attorneys say she actually speaks a Oaxacan language called Zapotec, which has several different dialects.

Defense attorney Eric Castellon said, "So the last Oaxacan interpreter we had they could not even understand one another's language, dialect."

The defense attorney believes Reyes understood her plea, but needs a different interpreter as the case moves forward. District attorney Michael Keitz agrees, but says it will likely slow down the court process.

Keitz explained, "It can be frustrating especially if you go from one interpreter to another interpreter to another and then to English too."

The mother of the five-month-old boy Reyes is accused of abusing says she had no trouble communicating with the babysitter in Spanish. But Rosalia Gonzales is more worried about her son's health than the court case. Doctors have told her little Christopher suffered a traumatic brain injury after being violently shaken. He can't see, and has lost most of his hearing.

Police arrested Reyes earlier this month after an investigation that started in July. But that wasn't her first encounter with officers. She was accused in a similar crime back in 2009.

"I know she did some parenting classes and charges were quickly dropped," Castellon said. "The situation that occurred previously was an older child as well it had nothing to do with a baby."

Reyes' own children are now in protective custody as the case against her continues. She's scheduled to be back in court in October, with an interpreter who speaks her same language.


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