SANTA ANA (CBS) — A prosecutor told a jury Wednesday that a then-19-year-old delivered a full-term baby girl in the bathroom of the Stanton restaurant she worked, killed the baby and left the newborn in a trash bin.
Juana Perez Valencia’s attorney, Calvin Schneider, told jurors in the retrial of his client that Valencia was in total denial about her pregnancy and did not intentionally kill her baby in 2009.
Valencia was sent to the U.S. from Mexico by her father when she was 16 years old and her mother had died, Schneider said. She was enrolled in the 11th grade at Western High School in Anaheim.
Valencia lived with 10 other relatives in a two-bedroom apartment, where her protective family looked after her, Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh said.
“She liked school … and she loved to dance,” Baytieh said. Valencia was on the school’s dance team.
After school Valencia worked at Sombrero’s restaurant in Stanton.
In early 2009, she began dating Luis Enrique Esquivel, who got her pregnant, Baytieh said.
Valencia was a virgin and the two did not complete sexual intercourse, Schneider said. Valencia dumped him when she found out he had gotten another girl pregnant, Baytieh said.
Several people, including a counselor at school, asked Valencia if she was pregnant, but she denied it, Baytieh said. The DA added that being pregnant could get a student kicked off the team.
An incredulous DA, doesn’t believe Valencia wasn’t fully aware of what she was doing. “She doesn’t call the police, she doesn’t call her sister, she doesn’t ask for help,” Baytieh said. “She goes to the bathroom, delivers a precious little girl, kills that precious little girl, and puts the precious little girl in a plastic trash bag.”
Valencia put the body and placenta in separate bags next to a trash bin, Baytieh said.
When co-workers asked her if she needed help, Valencia said she was having her period, Baytieh said.
The next day, her worried brothers saw Valencia was ill so they took her to a nearby hospital in Anaheim. There, a physician concluded she had recently delivered a full-term baby and alerted authorities, Baytieh said.
Police found the body in the trash bin, Baytieh said.
Valencia initially told investigators she fell off a ladder and “urinated a ball of blood,” which she flushed down the toilet, Baytieh said.
“The evidence is going to show she thought the trash was gone,” Baytieh said.
When Valencia was told investigators had found the dead baby, she said the “ball of blood” was about three pounds, Baytieh said. The baby actually was 6.3 pounds and 17 inches long, Baytieh said.
Schneider said there will be no evidence presented at trial showing the baby suffered blunt force trauma or was strangled.
“What the forensic evidence will show is Miss Valencia was fighting to get that child out of her,” Schneider said.
“This is a very sad case,” Schneider said.
Valencia had no medical no insurance and did not regularly see a physician, Schneider said.
“She had no regular exams, no OB/GYN visits, no counseling on birth control,” Schneider said.
“The evidence is going to show Miss Valencia was shy, very quiet,” who would not volunteer information unless asked a direct question, Schneider said.
“She was not somebody who liked attention,” Schneider said. “She’s naive, inexperienced, religious and loved to dance, loves kids.”
Valencia, who is petite, did not show much during her pregnancy, Schneider said.
“The only indication she may be pregnant was a small bump,” Schneider said.
Valencia reportedly shared a tampon with her sister and apparently mistook spotting during the pregnancy for her menstrual period, Schneider said.
Valencia went on trial at the beginning of the year, but a mistrial was declared Jan. 30 when jurors could not reach a verdict.
Jurors deadlocked 10-2 in favor of acquitting Valencia on a first-degree murder charge and 7-5 in favor of a guilty verdict for second-degree murder.
Valencia is charged with murder and felony assault on a child with force likely to produce great bodily injury resulting in death. She faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
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