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Woman arrested in death of infant girl

DeathClark County

A woman believed to be the mother of a dead infant girl found Monday in a Santa Ana yard was arrested in Henderson, Nev., by U.S. marshals after a brief standoff, police said Friday.

Michelle Jennae Pedroza, 20, was arrested late Thursday and was being held at the Clark County Detention Center, awaiting a hearing for extradition to Orange County, said Cpl. Jose Gonzalez, a spokesman for the Santa Ana Police Department.

Relatives and neighbors said Pedroza had lived until recently at one of two houses on a lot in the 1600 block of East Palm Avenue.

Neighbors saw a dog playing with what they thought was a doll or a rabbit Monday morning. When two of Pedroza's relatives went out to clean the yard about 10 a.m., they found the badly decomposed body of a full-term infant on a concrete patio next to the dog. A blanket and clothing lay nearby.

The two women reported it to police, who investigated it as a suspicious death.

An autopsy this week determined that the infant was a girl but was inconclusive regarding the cause and time of death.

When U.S. marshals in Nevada tried to serve an arrest warrant on Pedroza about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, she refused to surrender, barricading herself inside a house for more than an hour. But the standoff ended peacefully, Gonzalez said.

Police are trying to determine when the baby was born, when she died and how long she had been at the Santa Ana home, Gonzalez said.

Reached by phone Friday, relatives said they were surprised that Pedroza had been pregnant and were saddened by her arrest.

Her cousin Steven Pedroza, 18, said she had moved to Nevada more than a month ago.

"It's sad," he said in Spanish. "She already has a baby girl, and she treats her well."

Michelle Pedroza's other child, who is 18 months old, remains in Nevada and is being cared for by her family there, Gonzalez said.

tony.barboza@latimes.com

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