ORANGE, Calif. – A mother suspected of tossing her 7-month-old son from the fourth floor of a Southern California hospital parking garage was treated for depression after the child was born with a physical deformity and she couldn't accept his condition, her husband said.
Sonia Hermosillo, 31, of La Habra, was being held without bail for investigation of attempted murder and was undergoing a psychological evaluation in the jail's medical ward, Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said. She also was on an immigration hold and could make a court appearance as early as Wednesday, he said.
The infant remained in critical condition at the University of California, Irvine, Medical Center.
The woman's husband, Noe Medina, told The Orange County Register in an interview Tuesday that his wife had been hospitalized for postpartum depression in June after she said she didn't want their son, Noe Jr., who was diagnosed with congenital muscular torticollis — a twisting of the neck to one side.
The infant also wore a helmet to help correct his plagiocephaly, also known as flat-head syndrome, the Register reported. It was unknown if the boy was wearing a helmet when he was tossed over the railing.
"She didn't look at our son as normal," Medina said. "She didn't accept him. She didn't accept that he was like this."
Medina said the boy was receiving physical therapy twice a week and was showing signs of improvement.
Medina also said his wife seemed better in recent weeks and he "began to trust her."
No one answered the door Tuesday at the upstairs apartment in La Habra where Hermosillo lives with her husband, two young daughters and infant son. A child's pink flip flops, a sand pail and two Barbie dolls sat on the stoop in the hot sun.
Neighbor Sonia Herrera, 40, said she knew Hermosillo before the family moved into the apartment complex two months ago. Their children attend the same elementary school.
She said Hermosillo was a normal, loving mother to her daughters and was excited to be pregnant with a son. But after the boy was born, the 31-year-old mother changed suddenly and seemed depressed, Herrera said.
She withdrew and, while bubbly before, hardly talked at all. Herrera became concerned she might have postpartum depression, although she never saw her harm the infant, she said.
"She was different. She was serious," Herrera said. "I asked her many questions, and she just said 'Yes' or 'No.'"
When she saw Hermosillo's picture on the news, she was shocked.
"I just wanted to cry, and I asked, 'Why? Why did this happen?'" she said. "I hope everything will be OK for her and for her baby and for her family because the girls are very young."
At a similar apartment complex less than two blocks away in a working-class neighborhood of single-story homes and 1960s-style apartment buildings, former neighbor Carmen Ruiz said she saw nothing wrong with Hermosillo. They spoke almost every day, she said, and Hermosillo was a stay-at-home mother while her husband worked in construction.
The couple, both immigrants from Mexico City, didn't seem to fight and were friendly with neighbors, she said.
Police have not released a motive and the Orange County district attorney's office declined to comment until prosecutors there received the case from detectives, said spokeswoman Farrah Emami.
A witness on the ground saw the baby falling through the air just after 6 p.m. Monday and several people, including a doctor, called 911, said Adams, the police spokesman.
Surveillance video showed Hermosillo's tan Chevrolet Blazer sport utility vehicle with an empty child seat leaving the parking structure a short time later, the sergeant said. The license plate was traced to the Hermosillo home.
Adams said that during the investigation, La Habra police notified detectives that Medina had reported his wife and their son missing.
An Orange police officer driving past Children's Hospital at 10:15 p.m. spotted the Blazer driving on a street about 100 yards from the crime scene and Hermosillo was at the wheel, Adams said.
Police said that Hermosillo was cooperating with the investigation.
Court records in Orange County indicate Hermosillo has no major criminal record but pleaded guilty to four traffic violations in La Habra in 2008, including driving without a valid license and having no proof of insurance.
Associated Press writers Jeff Wilson and Edwin Tamara in Los Angeles and John Mone in La Habra contributed to this report.
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