ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. - A 42-year-old woman was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years to life in prison for dropping her 7-month-old son to his death from a Children's Hospital of Orange County parking structure a decade ago.
Sonia Hermosillo gave a tearful plea to Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Menninger to be granted probation. Hermosillo pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but jurors rejected that and convicted her Aug. 11 of murder and child assault causing death.
"I truly regret what I did," Hermosillo said through a translator. "I am asking for an opportunity... I want to be with my daughters. I plead with you, your honor. I know what I did was wrong and regret doing it from the bottom of my heart. If you could just give me an opportunity please."
Menninger said Hermosillo's son, Noe Medina Jr., was an especially vulnerable victim.
Menninger also noted how Hermosillo's husband had taken steps to protect their son, but that the defendant took advantage of a short moment when he was showering to take the baby to the hospital.
"She left a note of apology and escaped the house with baby Noe," Menninger said. "Baby Noe had no way to protect himself."
Menninger also said the assault included planning.
"She waited till she got that tiny opportunity... to successfully complete the murder," Menninger said.
Hermosillo may have suffered from a delusion that her son, who was born with flat-head and twisted-neck syndrome, would never grow up, but the judge said the infant was expected to "be perfectly normal." Menninger noted that Hermosillo removed the baby's helmet before hurling him to his death.
The defendant's daughter, Johana Hermosillo, tearfully told the judge that her mother was loving and caring to her before the birth of Noe "changed her." She said she misses her mother, who calls her twice a week from the Orange County Jail to check up on her.
"It's very hard to see her this way," Johana Hermosillo said. "I think about her every day."
She also remembered how the whole family "loved and cared" for Noe.
"She was never the same after that happened," Johana Hermosillo said of her brother's birth. "I just want my mom back."
Hermosillo's attorney, Jacqueline Goodman, said the baby's father has continued to support her and "understands she was sick."
Goodman told the judge, "I wish we could get to a day where we meet hurt with healing rather than blame... She's a victim in this case. The real victim is Ms. Hermosillo and her husband who lost his only son, and the daughters who lost their baby brother. Not one of them who loves this baby doesn't blame Ms. Hermosillo."
Menninger rejected Goodman's motion for a new trial based on a claim that the court interpreter had to handle translations -- sometimes form multiple people at once -- during the trial.
Hermosillo was convicted of first-degree murder and child assault causing death. Jurors in September determined she was sane at the time of the crime.
The defendant made incriminating statements to police following the Aug. 22, 2011, death of her son, Deputy District Attorney Mena Guirguis said.
Hermosillo told police, "No, I would rather he died," and said she killed him "because he's sick," and "that's why I don't love him," according to Guirguis.
Experts for the defense testified during the sanity phase that Hermosillo suffered from post-partum psychosis, while experts for the prosecution said she was depressed. One expert determined Hermosillo had bipolar-type schizo-affective disorder, according to the defense.
Hermosillo was given credit for 3,909 days in custody awaiting trial.