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Fear of CPS Kills Toddler

May 8, 2007 permalink

A mother with a sick toddler kept her away from medical care because of a justified fear that her child would be taken away. Every parent now has to weigh the danger when considering whether to seek medical help for a child. Parts of this story may be disturbing to younger viewers, and older ones too.



Woman Accused of Starving Child to Death Testifies

05/07/2007 - A Fresno mother took the stand on Monday and tried to explain to a jury why her daughter starved to death. *Warning: parts of this story may be disturbing to younger viewers.

Both Darlene Sanchez and her defense attorney broke down crying when they saw pictures of two and one-half year-old Savina Gonzales. The child weighed only 13 pounds when she starved to death in 2003. Sanchez struggled to explain why and how the child died.

Investigators say Savina Gonzales looked like a skeleton when she was found dead. There was no fat and all her bones could be seen on the little girl's emaciated body. But, investigators say Darlene Sanchez's other kids appeared very healthy.

Defense Attorney Linden Lindahl sobbed when he asked his own client "Why on April 28, 2003, did your little girl look like that and no one else did?"

Sanchez replied, "...'cause I was afraid."

Sanchez testified she would feed the little girl, but Savina was having what she called fits, vomiting spells, and losing weight. She said, "I was afraid of CPS. They would have just taken my kids. I know it, I know I should have taken her to the doctor...It was my bad decision."

Sanchez said she never sought help from her family nor doctors.

In her three hours of testimony, Darlene Sanchez could never fully explain why Savina appeared to have been starved, for what prosecutors believe was several months.

Darlene Sanchez faces a second degree murder charge. If convicted, she could be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Jurors are expected to begin deliberating later this week.

Source: KFSN-TV Fresno California (ABC)