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Santa Maria Murder Trial For Teen Mother Could Occur This Fall

A trial for the girl accused of killing her newborn boy could occur as soon as this fall, a Santa Barbara County Juvenile Court judge said Thursday morning.

Maribel S., as the girl is referred to due to her age, appeared in Santa Maria Juvenile Court on Thursday for what was supposed to be scheduling a date for the hearing on a pre-trial motion.

Instead, Judge Arthur Garcia told the attorneys to return Sept. 15 when he plans to set the date for the hearing.

Maribel has been incarcerated in Santa Maria Juvenile Hall since January, when police arrested her on suspicion of murder with use of a deadly weapon.

The teen showed up Jan. 17 at Marian Regional Medical Center, where doctors determined she had given birth recently.

After being alerted by hospital staff that a girl had recently given birth, police officers later found the dead baby boy in a plastic bag stuffed behind shoes in the bathroom vanity in the girl’s family’s apartment, according to testimony during a hearing on a defense motion to suppress evidence earlier this year.

The baby had three knife wounds, including one across its throat, injuries the girl said occurred when the knife slipped as she attempted to cut the umbilical cord.

An autopsy later revealed the baby was alive at birth, and authorities concluded the death was a homicide.

Defense attorney Lea Villegas said she had expected the trial to occur by Oct. 15.

“That can still happen,” the judge said. 

Garcia said a trial date could be set at the next hearing, but the defense attorney said she wanted to wait until after the hearing on the motion.

Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Karapetian estimated the trial — called a contested hearing in juvenile court terms — will last one week, with full days of testimony. 

However, Garcia presides over a busy juvenile court calendar that typically fills his mornings so it may require working with court officials to juggle that schedule.

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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