Fresno woman sentenced to 19 years for drowning infant son

A Fresno woman accused of drowning her two month old child in a hotel bathroom -- four years ago is now heading to prison.
A Fresno woman accused of drowning her two month old child in a hotel bathroom -- four years ago is now heading to prison.

Gabriela Espinosa, 27, sobbed in court, Wednesday, as her attorney read a statement on her behalf.

"I'm feeling very guilty and ashamed of my wrongdoing," read attorney Barbara Hope O'Neill. "As a result of domestic violence I ended up losing my mind. I asked for help, the system failed my children."

The mother of three was sentenced to 19 years, 8 months in prison for drowning her two month old boy in a bathtub in April 2010.

"There was a domestic violence issue early that morning, there were many prior domestic violence issues with the father of the children and my client," said O'Neill.

O'Neill said Espinosa suffered from post-partum depression at the time of the killing and had been physically and mentally abused by the child's father.

She said Espinosa reached out to social services and police several times for help that day, but ultimately had nowhere to turn.

"They checked to see if Marjaree Mason Center could take her in, they were unfortunately full," said O'Neill.

That's when she was placed in a room at the Economy Inn with her three children and the following morning carried out the crime.

"She told police and it's in the report that she felt better doing something than let some stranger torture them." said O'Neill.

Three separate psychologists said Espinosa was not competent to stand trial.

She pleaded "no contest" to the charges as part of a plea deal.

While O'Neill believes the boy's death wouldn't have happened had someone stepped in, District Attorney Jeff Dupras argued Espinosa knew what she what she was doing when she carried out what he described as "deliberate acts" that led up to this outcome.

"She was not left out there on her own. The system did not fail her. In fact the system took care of her. She failed her children which is why she's going to prison for 20 years," said Dupras.

Espinosa's two surviving children are now in the care of their father who told the court, Wednesday morning, he hopes it can help her.

"She's a human being. We make mistakes. There's times we don't know how things happen," said Jose Manuel Garcia Aparicio. "I never wanted to see her here; neither did I want to lose a son."

While Espinosa was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison, she'll serve around 13 due to credit for time already served and other factors. That means she may be eligible for release when she is 40 years old.



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