Facing 10 years in jail, Visalia mom gets 1 year for child's death in hot car as she tended pot grow

Jessica Harrington Image
Friday, October 8, 2021
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Eustajia Mojica left her 3-year-old daughter inside of a hot car while she worked on illegal marijuana grow operation.

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Visalia mother who left her child in a hot car while tending to a marijuana grow was sentenced Thursday for the death of her three-year-old daughter.

She faced up to 10 years in prison, but will spend just a fraction of that time actually behind bars.

The judge called the conduct by this mother "exceedingly serious", but said it didn't not appear she intentionally left the child in the sweltering heat so that she could tend to the illegal grow.

Police say Jessica Campos, 3, was left in the car as Eustajia Mojica worked on a illegal marijuana grow at her sister's home.

Mojica told police she had gotten used to letting the kids get out of the car on their own, but that her older child -- who would usually help Jessica get out of the car -- would sometimes close the door on her and leave her trapped inside.

Thursday, Tulare County Superior Court Judge Michael Sheltzer sentenced Mojica to one year in jail with 32 days credit for time served and four years probation.

If she violates probation, she faces eight years, eight months in prison.

Judge Sheltzer said Mojica had no prior criminal history and her pretrial supervised release has been going well.

He also considered the request from Mojica's 11-year-old daughter who asked the judge to let them be reunited.

The Tulare County District Attorney's Office felt the punishment wasn't enough.

"Her life meant something and we thought it was more than time in jail," said Assistant District Attorney David Alavezos.

The DA's office says it did not offer Mojica a plea deal and argued for more time because of evidence of neglect based on conditions at Mojica's home and inadequate supervision of her surviving children.

"Not only do we want there to be some sort of punishment for this child, but we want to send the message to the community that you cannot do this, you cannot leave your kids in cars," said Alavezos.

Jessica' father, Ruben Campos, submitted a victim impact statement which was read during the sentencing.

He said he left it up to God and the judge. He said, if that's justice, then that's not up to me. It's up to them to decide. My daughter is resting in peace now.

Mojica is required to turn herself into the Tulare County Jail on November 22.

The jail will then determine if she spends any more time behind bars or if she's eligible for a work release program.