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Monday, December 17 , 2018, 12:11 am | Fair 52º


Defense Witnesses Reveal Teen Mom’s Physical, Mental State

Santa Maria girl, 15, charged with murdering her newborn baby boy

Defense witnesses testified Wednesday in the murder trial of Maribel S., a 15-year-old girl accused of killing her newborn baby boy earlier this year. Click to view larger
Defense witnesses testified Wednesday in the murder trial of Maribel S., a 15-year-old girl accused of killing her newborn baby boy earlier this year. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Medical professionals who treated a 15-year-old girl accused of killing her newborn baby boy earlier this year testified in her Santa Maria Juvenile Court trial on Wednesday afternoon, saying she denied knowing she was pregnant.

The girl, referred to as Maribel S. in court due to her age, is charged with with first-degree murder and use of a deadly weapon —a broccoli knife — in the death of “baby Anthony” on Jan. 17. 

Maribel showed up at Marian Regional Medical Center where the staff determined she had recently given birth.

Called to testify by defense attorney Lea Villegas on Wednesday, physician's assistant Ashley Bridges said the girl had an umbilical cord protruding from her vagina and told of pulling something out, describing what appeared to be a fetus.

“She said it looked like a toy baby,” Bridges said, adding the girl described the infant as “purple and bloody.”

Medical staff asked the girl about the baby’s location, receiving different stories including that the baby was in a plastic bag and given to her brother to dispose. 

The girl’s father was sent to retrieve the bag with the baby, but returned with a bag that contained bloody tissue.

Police later found baby Anthony’s body in another bag stuffed behind shoes in a bathroom vanity with stab wounds.

The girl claimed she did not know she was pregnant before giving birth.

“She told me she thought the baby was not responsive, but she did not know if the baby was alive or not,” said Dr. Peter Garcia, a local psychiatrist.

Garcia said he diagnosed the girl as having acute stress disorder, a precursor to post traumatic stress disorder.

Psychologist Carolyn Murphy testified she talked to Maribel several times, and the girl told her about being physically and sexually abused by cousins while living in Mexico.

At the age of 5, the girl was left with relatives in Mexico, living there until the age of 11, making her feel abandoned even when she returned to live with her parents.

The earlier abuse left the girl with post traumatic stress disorder, Murphy said. 

Cutting behavior, like Maribel had done in the past, is seen often in adolescents including victims of sexual abuse, those with anxiety disorders or those unable to cope, Murphy said. 

“It’s a distraction technique to the extreme,” Murphy added. 

The girl also had skipped school and begun to take substances, more examples of her avoidance tendencies and inability to cope, Murphy said.

Under cross examination by Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Karapetian, Murphy said she was tasked with conducting a diagnostic assessment and didn’t focus on the circumstances of Jan. 17.

One test Murphy administered to the girl ended up not being interpreted due to an "unusual reporting of symptoms," Murphy said.

“It’s not that uncommon to get invalid test results,” Murphy said. 

Karapetian asked whether any "alleged memory impairment" could be blamed on the girl lying, leading Murphy to answer affirmatively.

The defense attorney has claimed the girl had pregnancy denial due to her prior abuse. 

On Tuesday morning, Santa Maria police Detective Shane Armstrong, a prosecution witness, shared texts the girl exchanged with her boyfriend, Eduardo C., the father of the baby.

In one text the girl says, “because your baby daddy.”  In another exchange, he asked in a text whether she was pregnant and she responded “Your stupid.”

Armstrong also testified about the data retrieved from the teen’s cell phone, including multiple searches seeking information about inducing a miscarriage. 

Searches inquired whether rubbing Icy Hot on the stomach, using peppermint oil, Alka Seltzer,  black cohash or garlic and lemon could prompt a miscarriage.

Other searches sought “What kind of herbs can speed along a miscarriage for pregnancy diagnosed as not viable,” or “Can you cause a miscarriage pressing on your stomach.”

Testimony in the trial that began last week will resume at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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