Crime

Sentencing set for Santa Maria girl convicted of killing her newborn baby

Maribel S., then 15, sits in a Santa Maria Juvenile Court alongside Deputy Public Defender Lea Villegas, right, before a judge ruled the girl guilty of second-degree murder in the death of her newborn baby.
Maribel S., then 15, sits in a Santa Maria Juvenile Court alongside Deputy Public Defender Lea Villegas, right, before a judge ruled the girl guilty of second-degree murder in the death of her newborn baby. Noozhawk file

The sentencing hearing for a teenage girl convicted of murder in the death of her newborn baby last year is scheduled for Jan. 11 in Santa Maria Juvenile Court.

The date for the contested disposition hearing was scheduled Thursday during a brief court appearance.

Now 16 years old, Maribel S., as she is called in court because of her age, was found guilty of second-degree murder in October at the end of a trial before Judge Arthur Garcia.

He also found true the allegation she used a deadly weapon, identified as a broccoli knife during the trial.

The girl showed up at Marian Regional Medical Center on Jan. 17, 2016, and hospital staff contacted police to say she recently had given birth.

Police officers later found the dead baby boy in a plastic bag stuffed behind shoes in the bathroom vanity in the girl’s family’s apartment.

The baby had knife wounds, including one across its throat; the girl said the injuries occurred when the knife slipped as she attempted to cut the umbilical cord, but the prosecution contended they were inflicted on purpose.

An autopsy later revealed the baby was alive at birth, and authorities concluded the death was a homicide.

Maribel, who had attended Santa Maria High School, has been incarcerated in Santa Maria Juvenile Hall since her arrest almost one year ago.

Defense attorney Lea Villegas had said last month she expected to have a contested disposition hearing.

In juvenile cases, contested disposition hearings are held when a defendant opposes the recommended sentence.

Unlike cases for adult defendants, juvenile court aims to rehabilitate young offenders, not punish them.

Noozhawk is a Santa Barbara-based news website. North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com.

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