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Crime & Justice

La Habra mother pleads not guilty in death of infant son dropped from parking structure

Sonia Hermosillo
Sonia Hermosillo
Orange County DA's Office

A woman prosecutors say killed her disabled child by throwing him off the roof of a parking structure in Orange today pleaded not guilty to murder charges.

Attorneys for Sonia Hermosillo, 31, maintain she was gravely mentally ill due to postpartum psychosis following the birth of her third child, Noe Hermosillo Jr., last year. Noe was born with congenital defects -- a twisted neck and a condition called flat head syndrome.

On Aug. 22, 2011, authorities say, Hermosillo took her 7-month-old baby to the top of a four-story parking structure at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, removed the protective helmet from his head, and threw him over the side. Noe died two days later.

The La Habra woman allegedly validated her parking permit before leaving the scene. But she returned later and was arrested, according to prosecutors.

Hermosillo remains in custody on $1 million bail and faces first-degree murder and assault charges. If convicted she could get 25 years to life in prison.

Much of the pretrial discussion has concerned Hermosillo’s mental state at the time of the incident. Three psychological examinations were conducted, with experts disagreeing on whether she is fit to stand trial. The Orange County Register reports that defense attorneys say Hermosillo’s family “was desperately trying to get her psychiatric help in the months and weeks prior to the incident.”

But Orange County Superior Court Judge Kaz Makino ruled last month that Hermosillo is fit to stand trial. This led to her not guilty plea today, with defense attorneys reserving the right to plead not guilty by reason of insanity at a later date.