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Jury Finds California Mother Was Sane When She Threw Special Needs Infant Son Off the Roof of Hospital Parking Structure

Sonia Hermosillo

Sonia Hermosillo

A California jury on Monday decided that a mother who drove her special needs infant son to the top floor of a children’s hospital parking structure and pushed him off of the building to his death was legally sane at the time she committed the crime.

The same group of jurors who last month found 41-year-old Sonia Hermosillo guilty of intentionally murdering her 7-month-old son Noe Medina, Jr., (a.k.a. Baby Noe) also found that she was able to understand the nature and morality of the criminal act she committed over a decade ago.

The sanity finding means that Hermosillo will face a sentence of 25 years to life to be served in prison instead of a mental health facility for first-degree murder and child assault causing death.

According to a report from the East Bay Times, jurors over the last three weeks heard testimony from a series of mental health experts who claimed the La Habra mother was “suffering from either postpartum psychosis or severe depression.”

As previously reported by Law&Crime, on Aug. 22, 2011, Hermosillo drove Noe Jr. to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (OCCH) where the child received regular treatment for a congenital condition that left his neck twisted to one side. He was also undergoing treatment for flat-head syndrome which made it necessary for him to wear a protective helmet at all times. On that day, however, Hermosillo did not have an appointment to see any of the doctors at OCCH.

Prosecutors said that Hermosillo parked her car on the fourth floor of the parking garage, unhooked the baby’s medical helmet and pushed him from the structure. A witness saw the child fall and immediately called 911.

“Hermosillo then walked inside the hospital, validated her parking, and drove away,” the DA’s office said in a statement.

The baby was rushed to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center’s trauma unit in critical condition but died two days later.

A few hours later, unaware of what had happened to his child, Hermosillo’s husband, Noe Medina, Sr., called police to report his son and wife missing. He told police that his wife had been struggling with depression and was not allowed to be alone with the baby.

Officers spotted Hermosillo driving past the hospital that evening and took her into custody.

During the trial, prosecutors said that Hermosillo told police that she was intentionally trying to kill her son and that she harbored “hate, resentment, and anger” towards him.

“No, I would rather he died,” she said when they asked if she hoped the child would recover from the four-story fall. She reportedly said she killed him “because he’s sick” and added, “that’s why I don’t love him,” according to a report from ABC-affiliated news station CSN-TV.

Hermosillo’s attorney, Jacqueline Goodman, argued that her client’s family knew Hermosillo needed more intensive medical care (they said she would often “go catatonic” and sometimes just wander off without explanation), but the family had limited financial resources. She had also been placed on a psychiatric hold and hospitalized for several days prior to Baby Noe’s death.

“Something happened to her. Nothing ever could have forced her to stop loving that baby, except psychosis,” Goodman said during the sanity trial, per a report from City News Service. “When Noe Jr. was born, there was something that went wrong and you’ll hear it was chemical. Sonia had become severely mentally ill.”

Goodman also argued that the family lacked health insurance and often couldn’t afford to fill Hermosillo’s prescription medications.

“Days would go by and she doesn’t sleep,” Goodman told jurors. “Her husband was tying ropes to her because she would leave and wander around the park. That’s bipolar and mania—and she was also depressed.”

Deputy District Attorney Mena Guirguis reportedly told jurors that Hermosillo did have “very severe depression, calling it “sad,” and “tragic,” but said even severe depression “is not legal insanity.”

Goodman did not immediately respond to an email from Law&Crime.

[image via Orange County Police Department]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.