A 36-year-old La Habra woman charged with killing her 7-month-old son was found mentally competent to assist in her defense, clearing the way for trial, attorneys said Tuesday.
In February of last year, Sonia Hermosillo was found to be mentally incompetent and sent to Patton State Hospital, where she was treated and recently determined by psychiatric experts to be mentally healthy enough to assist in her defense.
On Monday, Hermosillo waived her right to a trial on the issue of her mental competency, according to her attorney, Jacqueline Goodman. It’s now expected that Hermosillo, who was ordered to return to court Nov. 16 for a pretrial hearing, will go on trial in the spring or summer of next year, Goodman said.
The defense attorney said her client has improved significantly.
“She seems present now, and she wasn’t before,” Goodman said. “It’s striking — something I’ve never seen before.”
Hermosillo is now much more aware of what happened and what she’s facing, Goodman said, adding, “What a horrible reality to wake up to.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons said he is eager to get to trial because he is worried the defendant could relapse.
Hermosillo has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, so her trial will be in two phases.
Jurors will first determine if she is guilty of the crimes she is charged with — murder and child assault causing death. If she is convicted, jurors will then consider whether she was so mentally ill at the time that she did not understand what she was doing was illegal or wrong.
If she is found guilty by reason of insanity, she would be sent to a state mental hospital instead of prison.
Goodman said her client suffered from postpartum psychosis when her son, Noe Medina, was dropped to his death from a parking structure at Children’s Hospital of Orange County on Aug. 22, 2011. She developed the mental illness during her pregnancy, Goodman said.
Simmons said there is evidence to show the defendant understood what she was doing. Hermosillo drove to the top of the hospital’s four-story parking structure, placed the infant on the ledge and pushed him off, then drove down and had her parking ticket validated, Simmons alleged.
Hermosillo is also accused of removing a protective helmet from the baby, who was born with flat-head and twisted-neck syndrome, Simmons said.
Hermosillo drove around the area for hours before she was arrested near the hospital, the prosecutor said.
–City News Service
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