From the Associated Press:
The allegations against Sonia Hermosillo of La Habra might seem incomprehensible to most parents.
Prosecutors say the mother of three drove her infant son to the fourth story of a parking garage, removed a special helmet he wore for a medical condition and tossed him over the edge. She then validated her parking ticket and drove away, they say.
The 7-month-old boy with deep brown eyes died Wednesday, the same day his 31-year-old mother was charged with murder and felony child abuse. Her arraignment Thursday was rescheduled to Monday.
Hermosillo’s husband says that she suffered from severe postpartum depression and couldn’t accept that her only son had two unusual disabilities, one of which required him to wear a special helmet to reshape his head.
“There is no grudge against my wife. Don’t judge her poorly. She was truly ill,” Noe Medina said tearfully in his native Spanish on Wednesday. “Understand the pain that I am in … I lost my son and now I don’t want to lose my wife. I have to keep going on for my two little girls.”
Postpartum depression affects up to 20 percent of new mothers and can be triggered or worsened by stresses such as a traumatic childbirth experience, disabilities in the infant or an unsupportive home situation, experts said.
Most of these women have the “baby blues,” a bout of depression that goes away within a few weeks, but a tiny fraction — about .01 percent — develop postpartum psychosis, said Stephanie Morales, a licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes in perinatal mood disorders.
By all accounts, Hermosillo was a wonderful mother until the birth of Noe Medina Jr. this year.
The native of Mexico had two older daughters, ages 7 and 10, and she doted on them as a stay-at-home mother while her husband worked in construction, according to neighbors who knew her before she gave birth to her third child.
They said she was involved in her daughters’ schooling and walked them to class in the family’s working class La Habra neighborhood every day, although she spoke little English.
When she learned she was expecting a son, she was excited, said Sonia Herrera, an upstairs neighbor whose daughter played with Hermosillo’s children and attended the same school.
After the boy’s birth, Hermosillo became withdrawn and serious, she said. Herrera wondered if she might have postpartum depression.
Medina said his wife was hospitalized for postpartum depression in June after she said she didn’t want the boy. The baby had been diagnosed with congenital muscular torticollis — a twisting of the neck to one side — and wore a helmet to help correct his plagiocephaly, also known as flat-head syndrome, The Orange County Register reported.
The day before Hermosillo was arrested, Herrera saw her taking out the trash.
“She was different. She was serious,” Herrera said. “I asked her many questions, and she just said ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’”
Hermosillo’s husband said his wife took medication after her hospitalization and had seen a therapist for the first time on Monday. Later that day, she scooped up the baby while her husband was watching their daughters, and left their second-story apartment.
A panicked Medina called 911 to report his wife and son missing. La Habra police officials have declined to release that call, citing the pending investigation.
Authorities say she threw the baby from a parking garage at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, where the boy had been undergoing physical therapy twice a week. The boy didn’t have an appointment that day.
A witness saw the baby falling through the air, and several people, including a doctor, called 911, said Sgt. Dan Adams, an Orange police spokesman. One witness thought a child had dropped a doll when he saw the baby falling through the air, said Scott Simmons, who is prosecuting the case.
Surveillance video showed Hermosillo’s sport utility vehicle with an empty child seat leaving the parking structure a short time later, Adams said. The license plate was traced to the Hermosillo home, the sergeant said.
A police officer driving past Children’s Hospital about four hours later spotted Hermosillo driving on a street about 100 yards from the crime scene and arrested her, Adams said. Hermosillo remained held without bail at the request of immigration officials, who say she’s in the country illegally.