The mother told detectives she was frustrated when her twin newborn daughters refused to latch on to her breast.
Trigger warning: This article contains themes of child abuse that some readers may find distressing
A 29-year-old San Jose mother is now facing a murder conviction in the death of her infant daughter, who died after the suspect tried to breastfeed her. Celina Juarez was last week charged with the murder of her baby, Melani, and the child endangerment of her twin sister on November 4 at their home, reports KTVU. According to a press release from San Jose Police Department, officers arrived at the residence after receiving a call informing the department that the 8-month-old Melani wasn't breathing and that her sister was unconscious.
Although both babies were transported to local hospitals, Melani was pronounced deceased while in intensive care. Subsequently, Juarez was arrested and charged with homicide but experienced an unidentified medical emergency at the start of the investigation and was hospitalized until November 16, the day she was charged. Court documents attained by KRON4 show that Juarez told officers she was trying to breastfeed her twins when they lost consciousness. She claimed that she pushed Melani against her breast, "not allowing her to come up for air," and that she became "frustrated" when the child refused to "latch on."
Juarez told officers that her husband had left for work that morning and she had taken her 2-year-old son and two infant daughters to church until noon. When they returned, Juarez's mother took the boy to run errands and left her with the twins, who were reportedly sick and "fussy" on the day of the tragic incident. While she usually feeds them with a bottle, Juarez told the police she wanted to breastfeed them when they started crying that day so they would get the proper nutrients. The suspect told detectives she picked up Melani and "intentionally pushed her baby very hard against her right breast not allowing her to come up for air."
According to the court documents, Juarez held the child to her breast for several minutes before placing her unconscious body on the bed and picking up the second twin and doing the same thing. She allegedly waited another 20 minutes before entering the living room and asking her mother for help. The suspect and her mother attempted chest compressions and CPR on the twins before Juarez's brother called 911 when he returned home.
Dr. Keona Childs told police that Melani suffered respiratory failure and cardiac arrest as a result of not breathing for an extended period of time. Meanwhile, Dr. Bradford Commons informed police that the other twin was alert and responding but had skin discoloration. She is expected to recover completely. A judge ordered Juarez held in custody without bail during her first court appearance. She is expected to enter a plea at her next court appearance in December.
Cover Image Source: (L) Getty Images/Catherine Delahaye (representative), (R)San Jose Police Department