COURTS : Innocent Plea in Newborn Kidnaping

A 35-year-old Downey woman pleaded innocent to one charge of kidnaping in connection with the abduction of a 5-day-old infant in Pomona.

Joann Santos, who reportedly befriended the child's mother a month before the boy and his twin brother were born, also asked Pomona Municipal Court Judge Thomas A. Peterson to set her free until her preliminary hearing. Santos was arraigned Friday, two days after she was arrested at her home.

Peterson denied the request and set April 6 for Santos' preliminary hearing. Santos, who has been in police custody since her arrest, is being held on $500,000 bail.

Police said that on March 21, Santos drove the child's mother, Maria Magana, to a public assistance center. She said she would join the mother after she had parked and would bring the baby. Then she allegedly disappeared with the infant.

Pomona Deputy Dist. Atty. Hyatt E. Seligman characterized Santos as a danger to the community, adding that Santos knows where the infant and his mother live. Santos could be sentenced to 11 years in state prison if convicted.

Santos was more than seven months pregnant when she miscarried in November. Authorities said her family did not know about the miscarriage and that after the kidnaping, Santos tried to pass the baby off as her own. Santos' husband of one year called the police after seeing broadcast news reports about the missing baby, Peterson said.

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