Madera County mother charged in deadly accidental shooting of 1-year-old son makes first court appearance

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Less than two months after her one-year-old son was killed by gun fire Erica Bautista of Chowchilla made an appearance in court.

Bautista worked as a state corrections officer for 16 years and she now faces felony manslaughter and felony child abuse charges after investigators say her three-year-old daughter accidentally shot her younger brother in the head.

The gun, registered to Bautista, was not a duty weapon-- detectives suspect it was not stored properly.

"Particularly we are charging her of child abuse, not only of the child that died but also child abuse of the three-year-old child who was in the bed with her and the infant when the tragedy occurred," said David Linn, Madera County District Attorney.

"Why does the charging authority of this county feel it necessary to make an example of a single working Latina mother who's going to be mourning for the rest of her life," said Jeffrey Krasnoff, defense attorney.

Despite the complex nature of the case Linn said this is a serious offense.

"As a father, and as a grandfather, it's gotta be tragic for her-- but the law is the law."

The judge continued the case to March 21st and allowed Bautista to go free, without bail, pending trial. She's also not allowed to have firearms in possession.

If convicted on all four counts Bautista could face more than 10 years in prison.
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