A woman in California convicted in the brutal 2015 slaying of her newborn son may spend the rest of her life in prison after withdrawing her insanity plea.
Appearing before Judge Kenneth Twisselman II on Monday, 32-year-old Elvira Farias formally withdrew her original plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, Bakersfield CBS affiliate KBAK-TV reported. The plea withdrawal means that the jury will not have to hear arguments on the validity of the insanity claim and the case will proceed to a sentencing hearing.
A jury in Kern County last month found Farias guilty on one count of first-degree murder and one count of assault on a child causing death.
On June 9, 2015 at approximately 2:15 p.m., authorities in Shafter, California responded to a 911 call about an injured woman in a downtown park. Upon arriving at the scene, first responders found Farias bleeding and medical personnel determined she had recently given birth. Police, firefighters, and medical personnel began searching the surrounding area for the child.
Several hours later, a police officer reportedly discovered the body of a newborn male infant. The child’s body had reportedly been discarded in the bushes behind a building located on James Street.
DNA testing showed that the child was the biological son of Farias and had been born within 48 hours of his death.
An autopsy was conducted on the child’s body and the medical examiner ruled the newborn’s death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma to the head and midsection. The newborn had sustained a fractured skull and multiple broken ribs less than two days after his birth.
Further adding to the tragic circumstances of the incident, the child was murdered and abandoned right across the street from the Kern County Fire Department’s Shafter Station, which is a designated Baby Safe-Surrender location.
California’s Safely Surrendered Baby Law, which was first enacted in 2001, allows a parent to “safely surrender” a newborn to an employee at any hospital emergency department, most fire stations or other designated “safe havens” in the state within three days of the child’s birth, provided the baby has not been abused or neglected. Between Jan. 1, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2017, an estimated 931 newborn children were safely surrendered compared to 175 newborns who were unlawfully abandoned, according to the California Department of Social Services.
“Safe Surrender laws exist to ensure that children born in the worst of circumstances are given the opportunity to survive. The murder of an infant in any circumstance is horrible, but for such a crime to occur despite immediately available options at no cost to preserve the life of a child is an atrocity that the law strongly, and rightly punishes,” District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said in a statement following the verdict. “The withdrawal of the insanity plea is a clear indication that whatever narcotics or mental conditions that may have contributed to this murder do not rise to the level of legal insanity and will not excuse the horrendous crime committed on an infant.”
Farias is currently scheduled to appear in court before Judge Twisselman for a sentencing hearing on Feb. 1. She is facing 25 years to life in prison.
[image via KGET screengrab]
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