Mother Who Killed Her Baby Pleads No Contest

A 25-year-old Canoga Park woman who prosecutors say killed her infant daughter by slamming her into a shower door to keep her from crying pleaded no contest Wednesday to voluntary manslaughter.

Pamela Maria Herrera was originally charged with one count each of murder and felony child-endangering in the Dec. 26, 1986, death of her 6-month-old daughter, Melissa.

Prosecutors accepted Herrera’s plea to the lesser charge because the killing was unpremeditated and because Herrera was under stress because of domestic problems, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Speer.

The baby was not breathing and its heart had stopped beating when Herrera brought her to Canoga Park Hospital on Nov. 17, 1986. Herrera at first told Los Angeles police the baby had slipped out of her hands and fallen into the bathtub. Under repeated questioning, she admitted she had banged the baby’s head against a shower door to stop her from crying.


The baby was kept alive on life support systems and transferred to Humana Hospital West Hills where she died a month later.

Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Judith Meisels Ashmann scheduled sentencing for Jan. 19. Herrera could receive a maximum sentence of 11 years in state prison.

Herrera, who is free on bail, has since had another baby, which is in the legal custody of relatives, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Bradford Stone.