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Woman pleads not guilty to killing three young daughters

Mother accused of killing her three young girls pleads not guilty to murder charges
West Carson woman accused of killing her daughters never glanced at her family during first court appearance
Husband of woman accused of killing her daughters breaks out in tears in court when wife speaks

Carol Coronado, the woman accused of killing her three young daughters inside her West Carson home, pleaded not guilty Thursday to three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

Coronado's family, including her husband, were present as the 30-year-old woman was brought into the Compton courtroom in a wheelchair. Coronado looked straight at the judge and never glanced at her family behind her. She was surrounded by deputies and her attorney, Stephen Allen.

Her husband, Rudy Coronado, who sat in front of the courtroom, broke out in tears as his wife responded in a low and soft-pitched voice to the judge's questions.

At the end of the hearing, Allen made a statement on behalf of the family, saying Rudy Coronado supports his wife and thanked the community for its support.

"Lastly, we want to draw attention to the issue of postpartum depression and psychosis," Allen said. "More needs to be done to diagnose this disorder."

Allen said Carol Coronado has expressed remorse for what happened. He would not speak as to whether postpartum depression would be part of the defense.

"If that's what the medical diagnosis says, then that's probably where we're headed," Allen said.

Rudy Coronado, dressed in black and using a black handkerchief to wipe his tears, struggled to speak to reporters.

"I just want to thank everybody for their support," he said in a soft voice, looking down. "Everybody."

Carol Coronado's next court hearing is scheduled July 3.

She is accused of killing her daughters -- identified by relatives as Sophia, 2 1/2; Yazmine, 16 months; and Xenia, 2 months -- who were discovered May 20 inside a room, bloodied and laid out atop a bed.

Coronado was found next to their bodies, barely clothed and suffering from self-inflicted wounds, authorities said.

The attempted murder charge was related to an incident with her mother, authorities said.

Residents of the unincorporated neighborhood described the chaotic scene on the night of the killings.

Before police arrived, neighbors recalled seeing the father screaming outside the home as he frantically called for help. The grandmother called 911.

Investigators said Coronado was "covered with blood" when her mother found her lying on a bed next to the girls' bodies. Coronado, who was half-clothed, had self-inflicted stab wounds, said sheriff's Lt. Dave Coleman.

When police led Coronado out of the house in the 1000 block of West 223rd Street, she was handcuffed and covered in a blanket, said neighbor Ashley Madrid.

"She had a zoned-out look and was just looking down," Madrid told The Times. "She had dry blood smeared on her face and legs."

Coronado's husband, Madrid said, collapsed in the street as sheriff's deputies escorted him to a patrol car.

"It was very horrible to see," she said. "Very heartbreaking."

Detectives removed several knives from the home, Coleman said. There was evidence the girls had been stabbed, he added, but it was unclear what other injuries they may have sustained. 

L.A. County coroner's officials have yet to release autopsy results.

Coronado served in the military as a young woman, Coleman said, but left after a short stint because of medical reasons.

As part of the investigation, officials looked into Coronado's medical history and mental health, including whether she might have suffered postpartum depression after the birth of her youngest daughter.

In a brief interview with The Times immediately after the killings, Coronado's father-in-law said there were no obvious red flags before the killings. Rudy Coronado, 67, said his daughter-in-law was "trying to go to school and take care of the kids."

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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