An Orange County Superior Court judge declared a mistrial today in the murder case against Seal Beach Army wife Linda Ann Wilborn, who is accused of killing her 23-month-old daughter Millicent in December 2009.
Judge Richard Toohey granted the mistrial at the request of Wilborn's defense attorney, who objected to the prosecution entering as supporting evidence a medical article that could indicate the mother of four squeezed Millicent so tightly it tore the little girl's heart.
The medical literature in question finds that tears in hearts like Millicent's cannot be made accidentally in a home setting. That bolsters the prosecution's contention that 34-year-old Wilborn tightly squeezed the girl's torso and slammed her on a hard surface to kill her in their home on the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. The mother is also accused of fracturing the skull of Millicentl's twin brother.
Deputy Public Defender Michael Becker informed Toohey he would not cross-examine prosecution witness Dr. Anthony Juguilon, the Orange County Coroner's chief forensic pathologist who found the article, because it is only coming to light two years after Wilborn's arrest and Millicent's autopsy.
Toohey agreed he found the timing of the discovery "problematic," basing his mistrial order on "substantial concerns" about it. "It's incumbent upon the people to fully investigate the issues before trial," said the judge, explaining he needs to know which evidence is and is not appropriate to show the jury.
Wilborn is facing murder, assault on a child causing death and two child abuse counts that could send her to state prison for 25 years to life with a conviction.
Her initial arrest was accompanied by a bizarre account of her and her Army sergeant husband, Derrick Wilborn, dealing with police, other first responders and even one another as emergency medical aid was rendered to their dying little girl in their home and at Los Alamitos Medical Center.
An Army sergeant first class stationed at the Los Angeles Medical Recruiting Command in Long Beach, Derrick Wilborn was convicted by a panel of officers at Fort Irwin earlier this month of negligent homicide, child endangerment by culpable negligence resulting bodily harm and child endangerment by culpable negligence resulting in grievous bodily harm. His sentence included 90 days of detainment.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The defense maintains a prison cell should not be in the mother's future, claiming she accidentally killed Millicent while trying to administer CPR. The tragic nightmare was then compounded by a botched autopsy and medical experts blaming the mother for the girl's death without any proof, according to Becker.
Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons counters that there is nothing out of order about the prosecution's case, claiming Juguilon was only doing his due diligence continuing to investigate the case and finding the medical article. Besides, the prosecutor told the judge, it was the blunt force trauma to the head and torso, not the tear in the heart, that killed little Millicent.
Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!