A bipolar Santa Ana woman who was found to be legally sane when she drowned her infant daughter in a bathtub was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Lucero Carrera, 30, was convicted in January of first-degree murder and child assault causing death for drowning 2-month-old Kimberly Gutierrez in a whirlpool bath in a trailer park at 518 S. Sullivan St. on June 29, 2012.
If the jury Friday had found Carrera was insane at the time of the killing, she could have been sent to a state mental institution for as long as a prison sentence would be, or be treated as an outpatient.
Carrera was born in Mexico and came to the United States as a toddler, but was sent back to Mexico when she was 7 because she was “unstable,” defense attorney Kira Rubin said. Carrera returned to the U.S. when she was a teenager and at 15 years old was first hospitalized for a suicide attempt, her attorney said.
Experts say Carrera, who alternates between manic and passive phases, has a schizo-affective disorder, according to Rubin, who said one expert concluded Carrera suffered from “altruistic filicide,” leading her to kill her child.
“In her opinion, Ms. Carrera felt morally compelled to stop her daughter’s suffering,” Rubin told the jury.
Carrera appeared “catatonic” when police and paramedics began investigating the death of her daughter, Rubin said. She had swallowed a bottle of Seroquel pills in a suicide attempt, according to Rubin.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Jim Mendelson said there’s no dispute that Carrera is bipolar, but he told jurors that she was exaggerating her symptoms to avoid prosecution, a concept known as “malingering,” and used her illness as a “Get Out of Jail Free Card.”
Carrera took about 30 Seroquel pills before she filled up the bathtub and plunged her daughter into the water, Mendelson said.
Carrera was visiting relatives in Las Vegas in late 2010 when she met Kimberly’s father, the prosecutor said. The two lived together for several months until Carrera swung back to a depressive state and returned to Santa Ana to stay with her mother, he said.
Carrera stopped taking her prescribed Seroquel when her daughter was born, Mendelson said.
—City News Service
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