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SANTA ANA : Mother Convicted of Trying to Kill Infant

A Santa Ana woman was convicted Tuesday of attempted murder and abandonment for tossing her newborn son out a first-floor bathroom window moments after giving birth alone in a bathtub.

Maria Bonilla, 19, described as mentally retarded, showed little emotion as Orange County Superior Court Judge David O. Carter ruled that she had intended to kill her child last November. Carter echoed a description of the case as a “desperate act by a desperate person.”

The infant’s cries alerted neighbors, who called police. He was found wrapped in clothing but was wet and cold from the rain. While he is now healthy and in foster care, he was suffering from hypothermia when found, Deputy Dist. Atty. David La Bahn said.

Bonilla faces up to nine years in prison when she is sentenced April 23, although her attorney plans to request a more lenient sentence which involves a program for the mentally retarded.

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Deputy Public Defender Marri Derby had argued that Bonilla never intended to kill the child and naively hoped that a neighbor would find the child and give it a proper home.

“There was no intent to kill,” Derby said.

Derby had argued that Bonilla should only be convicted of a less serious charge of attempted voluntary manslaughter because she was suffering at the time from volatile emotions stemming in part from a deep depression.

Derby said Bonilla was subjected to physical and sexual abuse and was abandoned by her mother at an early age. When she discovered she was pregnant, she originally wanted an abortion but a friend talked her into having the child, Derby said.

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“She never wanted the child,” argued La Bahn, who said Bonilla was guilty of attempted murder. “When she was forced to give birth to that child she decided to get rid of it.”


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