[UPDATED with Insanity Plea:] A Tale of Two Sonias: One Mom Welcomes OC's 1st Baby of 2013, Other Allegedly Murdered Boy
See the update at the end of this post on Sonia Hermosillo's insanity plea today.
ORIGINAL POST, JAN. 2, 9:38 A.M.: Two Orange County mothers named Sonia enter 2013 in very different places. At 12:03 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 1, at Western Medical Center Anaheim, Sonia Gonzalez delivered Pamela Cristal Beltran, Orange County's first baby of 2013. Today at Superior Court in Santa Ana, Sonia Hermosillo is scheduled to be arraigned on murder charges for tossing her 7-month-old son Noe Medina, Jr. to his death from the Children's Hospital of Orange County parking structure in Orange.
Western Med staff report Pamela came into the world as a healthy girl weighing 5 pounds, 7 ounces and measuring 18 ½ inches long. Gonzalez, 24, and her 29-year-old husband, Jose Beltran, have two other babysitters . . . er . . . daughters back home in Stanton, Ana Maria, 9, and Erica Yasmin, 3.
Noe attained a much more gruesome Orange County milestone: He was the 40th murder victim of 2011.
Hermosillo, 32, of La Habra, is accused of purposely pushing Noe off the fourth level of the CHOC parking structure the evening of Aug. 22, 2011. He usually went to the hospital for treatment of a birth defect, but he had not been inside that day. After removing a helmet the toddler was required to wear and then sending him to his death, the mother is further accused of entering the hospital to get her parking validated before driving away.
Her husband, Noe Medina, later said his wife suffered from severe post-partum depression, which was worsened by Noe's medical condition. Jailers placed her on suicide watch.
At Hermosillo's original arraignment last year, she pleaded not guilty to murder and child abuse charges, but the judge also ordered competency hearings to determine whether the mother was mentally able to stand trial.
Three court-hired experts split on that question, so Judge Kazuharu Makino declared Hermosillo competent last spring and ordered the trial to proceed.
Today's new arraignment hearing was set as a result of the competency hearing. Hermosillo's attorney, who does not deny her client tossed Noe off the parking structure, has filed a motion to have the murder charge dismissed for lack of evidence. Hermosillo is expected to plead not guilty by reason of insanity to any criminal counts that survive the defense motion.
UPDATE, JAN. 2, 1:27 P.M.: As promised, Sonio Hermosillo this morning pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of murder and assault on a child with force resulting in death that could send her to prison for 25 years with a conviction.
Her attorney, Jacqueline Goodman, claims her client was mentally ill, suffering from postpartum psychosis at the time of her 7-month-old's death. Prosecutor Scott Simmons counters Hermosillo planned to murder the boy.
The plea means there may be two trials. The first will determine if Hermosillo committed the crimes. If she is found guilty, the second will deal with her sanity at the time.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.