Preliminary hearing held for teen accused of killing newborn baby

Gloria Mendoza is accused of killing her newborn baby. The 17 year old is waiting to learn if she'll go on trial. (KFSN)
May 12, 2014 9:51:33 PM PDT
A teenager accused of killing her newborn baby is waiting to learn if she'll go on trial.

Madera County prosecutors believe Gloria Mendoza murdered her baby girl and hid the body under a bathroom sink. But the defense says the 17 year old is a scared child, not a cold-blooded killer.

On Monday, a deputy testified about finding the baby girl inside a yellow grocery bag that was placed inside two more bags and closed with a knot. Another witness spoke about seeing the bathroom floor of his home covered in blood. But difficulty translating between three languages dramatically slowed down the hearing.

Mendoza is charged with murder as an adult, but the judge asked us not to show her face in court. The defense provided a picture of her and shed light on how a girl from Oaxaca, Mexico ended up in Madera County days before giving birth.

"She immigrated from a small village, no electricity, no running water, farming, 10 children, father passed away in July of 2012. They had to make money, so she immigrated up north," defense attorney Robert Torres said.

Torres says Mendoza was raped by multiple men before crossing the border in Tijuana. She made it to Santa Maria and then moved into a Madera County home with relatives in January. Authorities say she showed up at a local hospital on the 31st with postpartum bleeding, but denied giving birth.

Deputy Mark Shafer testified he found the newborn inside three layers of bags in a cabinet under the bathroom sink where Mendoza lived. The young mother told investigators the infant was stillborn, but autopsy results show the baby girl was killed.

"We'll be able to present the exact circumstances as to what a child who is having a child was feeling and the circumstances that led to the death of this infant," Torres said.

The cause of death has not been released, but prosecutors asked Alberto Vasquez if he knew of any sharp objects that may be kept in his bathroom. They also questioned Mendoza's brother about taking his sister to the hospital.

"She just said she was hemorrhaging and that it could be because of a baby," Vasquez said through an interpreter.

Multiple interpreters worked to translate between English, Spanish and Mixteco, but it led to a lot of repeated questions and confusion in the courtroom. One interpreter was ultimately replaced on Monday, but the preliminary hearing will have to continue on Tuesday. Then the judge will decide if there's enough evidence to hold a murder trial.

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