San Jose mom charged after allegedly suffocating baby during breastfeeding
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A mother in San Jose has been charged in connection with the death of one of her 7-month-old twin daughters by suffocating her with her breast while trying to feed her.
The other daughter also allegedly suffered injuries at the hands of the mother, authorities claim.
On Friday, the Santa Clara County District Attorney charged Celina Juarez with the murder of that baby, Melani, as well as the child endangerment of her twin sister on Nov. 4 at their home on Hurlingham Way.
During her first court appearance, a judge ordered Juarez held in custody without bail. Her next court appearance is in December, where she is expected to enter a plea.
San Jose police were called out to Juarez's home after they were told that Melani wasn't breathing and her sister was unconscious, according to a statement of facts provided by San Jose police. Both babies were rushed to Regional Medical Center.
Juarez admitted to detectives that she purposely held her breast against her girls' mouths as she was frustrated that they wouldn't latch on, police wrote.
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As police relayed her story, Juarez said that her husband had left for work that day at 6:30 a.m. and she took her 2-year-old son and baby girls to church until noon.
They all returned home, and Juarez's mother took her son to run errands, leaving her with the twins who were sick and "fussy" that day, police said.
Juarez also told police that she was "frustrated and she did not eat all day."
Her babies started crying and even though she usually bottle feeds them, she wanted to breastfeed that day to give them the "proper nutrients," police said.
According to police, Juarez said that she picked up Melani and "intentionally pushed her baby very hard against her right breast not allowing her to come up for air," police said.
Juarez told police she felt Melani "gasping for air" and saw her legs kicking as she kept pushing her daughter against her body, police said.
She told police that she believes she held Melani against her breast for 10 minutes, and even when she saw her baby wasn't breathing, held her mouth against her breast for another two minutes before she placed her unconscious body on the bed.
Then Juarez said she picked up her other baby to feed her, pushing her onto her left breast, police said. She said she "pushed [her] very hard," against her breast, "without letting her come up for air," police wrote.
KTVU is withholding the name of the child who survived.
Juarez then said she waited about 20 minutes before calling her mother for help. She and her mother performed CPR on the babies, and at that point, her brother came home. He called 911.
Police said Melani died at the hospital the following day, on Nov. 65.
Dr. Keona Childs told police that Melani sustained respiratory failure and cardiac arrest because she hadn't been breathing for a prolonged period.
Dr. Bradford Commons told police that the second child was alert and responding but had skin discoloration. She is expected to make a full recovery.
Police said that Juarez suffered her own medical emergency, which they did not elaborate on. She was hospitalized until Wednesday when she was arrested and taken to jail, where she remains in custody.
Efforts to reach Juarez or determine if she had a lawyer on Friday were not successful. It's unknown whether an attorney is representing her.
KTVU's Henry Lee contributed to this report.