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Jury Hears Daughter of Victim : Courts: Girl, 14, says she saw her mother’s body being dragged from an abortion clinic whose administrator is being tried for murder.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Biting her lip and speaking softly, a 14-year-old girl testified in Superior Court on Monday about seeing her mother’s body being dragged from an abortion clinic by the clinic administrator and an assistant.

Looking tired and subdued, Maria Sanchez recalled how she was searching for her mother, 27-year-old Angela Nieto Sanchez, that day in January, 1993, and was approaching her mother’s car in the clinic parking lot when she made the horrifying discovery.

“I was running toward my mother’s car, and I saw them dragging something from the clinic,” the girl testified in the murder trial of Alicia Hanna, the clinic administrator.

“I asked where my mother was. (The assistant) said she didn’t know. Then I saw it was my mother. I saw her drop my mother’s legs.”

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Maria told the court that she began crying and tried to hug her mother’s body, but was snatched away by Hanna. Later, she said, she managed to embrace the dead woman.

“I asked (Hanna) what had happened to my mother,” Maria said. “She said she had died and she couldn’t do anything for her.”

Hanna is charged with murdering Sanchez, an Orange woman who police say went to Hanna’s clinic seeking an abortion. She is accused of injecting Sanchez with an unknown drug and refusing to call 911 after the patient began vomiting and foaming at the mouth.

Maria, who was 12 at the time, testified that she and her 3-year-old brother, Martin, went with their mother to the clinic, where they waited in the lobby for several hours.

At one point, she said, they were taken to a fast food store for lunch by Hanna’s assistant, Irasema Mendoza.

Mendoza--who has been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for her cooperation--told the children that their mother had left without them, and Hanna sent the two home with an uncle, Maria testified.

But after calling local hospitals, Maria and her aunt and two friends returned to the clinic searching for Maria’s mother, and arrived just as her body was being taken away.

Prosecutors allege that Hanna was about to put Sanchez’s body in the trunk of her car and get friends to dispose of the car in Tijuana.

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Hanna’s attorney, deputy public defender Steve Biskar, has argued in court that Sanchez died of unknown causes, and that his client is guilty only of panicking.

Biskar has said that Sanchez died before an abortion was performed and that a subsequent, botched autopsy has concealed the true cause of Sanchez’s death. Hanna is expected to take the stand next week to testify in her own defense.

Maria’s aunt, Celia Sanchez, 31, testified Monday that Hanna told her outside the clinic that Angela Sanchez had been dumped unconscious by an unknown man.

But at the hospital where the dead woman was taken after being found at the clinic, Celia Sanchez said, Hanna changed her story, telling her that she discovered Sanchez knocking on her clinic’s window, and that when she answered, Sanchez collapsed.

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“I told her she had given me two different stories,” Celia Sanchez said. “I didn’t believe her.”


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