The family of a 20-year-old Pomona woman had no idea she was even pregnant at the time she gave birth secretly in the bathroom of her parents' home, according to testimony Wednesday.
The parents and sister of Araceli Garcia testified during her preliminary hearing on charges of first-degree murder and felony child abuse, after Garcia admitted to police that she had tossed her newborn son over a fence into a neighbor's back yard, where he was mauled to death by a pit bull.
At times, the testimony about the first moments of the infant's life were so wrenching that the court clerk in Pomona Municipal Court broke into tears and had to leave the courtroom. At the end of the hearing, Garcia, the mother of two children, was bound over for trial; she will be arraigned in Pomona Superior Court on March 15.
If convicted, she could face 25 years to life in prison, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Gary Hearnsberger.
In an emotionally charged preliminary hearing testimony on Wednesday, Garcia family members, often breaking down into tears, testified about how Araceli kept her pregnancy from them. Garcia's father, Adolfo Garcia, and her sister Sylvia said they were watching television during what would later prove to be Araceli Garcia's labor.
Handcuffed and dressed in knee-high white stockings, a salmon colored dress and a dark blue blouse, Garcia sat with head hung through most of the hearing. She did not testify.
Pomona homicide Detective Raul Camargo testified that Araceli Garcia had confessed to him that she had given birth while sitting on the toilet and that after the baby was born, she left him in the toilet for 15 minutes, terrified that her family would find out about the child because her father had threatened to throw her out of the house if she had another baby out of wedlock. When her mother, Tomasa Garcia, had come home from work, Araceli had stuffed the baby behind the bathroom door before opening up for her mother, Camargo said.
Tomasa Garcia testified that she had driven her daughter to Pomona Valley Medical Center at about 2 a.m. on Nov. 4 to be treated for what she believed was hemorrhaging after she came home and found her daughter in the bathroom bleeding.
While her mother was preparing to go to the hospital, Garcia had slipped out the back door with the baby and placenta, Camargo said Garcia told him. When she got to the rear of the yard, Camargo said Araceli tossed the afterbirth into a dumpster and threw the baby over a chain-link fence into the yard with two pit bull dogs, one a puppy that was loose, the other an older dog that was tied.
The baby was still alive when he was thrown over the fence, Deputy Coroner Eva Heuser testified.
The baby died as a result of three separate skull fractures and a puncture wound to the heart, all caused by the dog, Heuser said.
Adolfo Garcia admitted on the stand that he had threatened to throw Araceli and her children out of the house if she became pregnant again.
"I was counseling her to not just go around, and (that she should) marry someone in the right way," Adolfo Garcia said through an interpreter. "I told her that just so she would understand. I didn't really mean it."