A preliminary hearing started Tuesday with grisly testimony against a 22-year-old farm worker accused of twice dropping her infants into toilets--injuring the first and killing the second.
Witnesses testified in Ventura County Municipal Court that a sanitation worker found a newborn boy’s body in a chemical toilet in a Saticoy onion field in July, 40 hours after Francisca Maria Jimenez Sanchez had used the toilet after complaining of stomach pains.
Prosecutors have said Sanchez gave birth in the toilet cubicle, then dropped the child into the toilet itself, where he drowned in chemicals and fecal matter.
Another witness testified that he had found Sanchez standing outside a bloody bathroom in Oxnard in May, 1990, just before paramedics rushed her newborn son to a hospital, where he was treated for a head injury. Prosecutors said she also had tried to flush that child down a toilet.
Sanchez is charged with murder and attempted murder in the cases.
Sanchez’s co-workers testified that she fell ill on July 28 while picking and bunching green onions in a Saticoy field owned by Boskovich Farms.
Her foreman, Jose Luis Rosiles, testified that Sanchez wanted to go home early because her stomach hurt. “I said . . . ‘You are expecting?’ ” Rosiles testified. “She said to me, ‘Well, I will tell you the truth, I am expecting.’ ”
Rosiles said he told Sanchez that she could stop to rest or go home for the day, but that was the last he saw of her.
Another co-worker testified that she took a sweater for Sanchez to a portable toilet a little while later. Sanchez opened the door, stuck her arm out, grabbed the sweater and closed it, Margarita Martinez testified.
Moments later, Sanchez emerged with the sweater’s arms tied around her waist and the rest of it draping the seat of her pants, Martinez testified.
Two days later, sanitation worker Roy Lezada was cleaning the toilet with a vacuum hose when he discovered an infant’s arm, he testified.
“I’d only been on the job about a month and a half, and being out there all by myself, it was really creepy,” Lezada testified. “When I first noticed it was a baby, I totally freaked out, and the one thing that came to mind was, ‘How could somebody do this?’ ”
Earlier in the hearing, former Oxnard Fire Capt. Ron Veillette testified that he found Sanchez at an Oxnard home moments after she had given birth in May, 1990.
Veillette testified that the amount of blood he saw in the bathroom of the home was normal for a childbirth but that her infant had a large, abnormal bump on his forehead at the hairline.
A few minutes after his arrival, Veillette testified, the baby was rushed to the hospital.
Prosecutors have said the child suffered brain damage when Sanchez tried to flush him down a toilet at the home. Another tenant heard the baby’s cries and rescued the child, authorities said. The baby boy now lives in a foster home.
Testimony in the hearing is expected to end today, after which Municipal Judge John R. Smiley will decide whether to order Sanchez held for trial.