Celina Juarez from San Jose. Photo: SJPD
SAN JOSE, CA. – A San Jose mother has been charged with the death of one of her 7-month-old twin daughters by choking her with her breast as she tried to feed her.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney on Friday charged Celina Juarez with the murder of that baby, Melani, as well as the endangerment of her twin sister’s child, Zari, on Nov. 4 at their Hurlingham Way home.
Efforts to immediately reach Juarez or determine if she had an attorney on Friday were not immediately successful. As of Friday morning, she didn’t have a lawyer listed to represent her.
According to a statement of facts provided by San Jose police, police were called to Juarez’s home after learning that Melani was not breathing and her sister was unconscious. Both babies were rushed to the regional medical center.
Juarez admitted to detectives that she deliberately held her chest to her daughters’ mouths because she was frustrated that they weren’t hanging on, police wrote.
As police told her story, Juarez said her husband left for work that day at 6:30 a.m. and that she took her 2-year-old son and little girls to church until noon.
They all went home, and Juarez’s mother took her son shopping, leaving her with the twins who were sick and “fussy” that day, police said.
Juarez also told police she was “frustrated and hasn’t eaten all day.”
Her babies started crying and although she usually bottle-feeds them, she wanted to breastfeed them that day to give them the “proper nutrients”, police said.
According to police, Juarez said she picked up Melani and “intentionally pushed her baby very hard against her right breast, not allowing her to breathe,” police said.
Juarez told police she felt Melani “out of breath” and saw her legs kicking as she continued to push her daughter against her body, police said.
She told police she believed she had held Melani to her chest for 10 minutes, and even when she saw her baby was not breathing, she held her mouth to her chest for another two minutes before placing her unconscious body on the bed.
Afterwards, Juarez said she took her other baby, Zari, to feed her, pushing her onto her left breast, police said. She said she “pushed Zari very hard”, against her chest, “without letting her get air”, police wrote.
Juarez then said she waited about 20 minutes before calling her mother for help. She and her mother performed CPR on the babies, and just then her brother came home. He called 911.
Melani died in hospital two days later on November 6.
Dr Keona Childs told police Melani suffered respiratory failure and cardiac arrest because she had not breathed for a prolonged period.
Dr Bradford Commons told police Zari Doe was alert and responsive, but had skin discoloration. Zari should survive.
Police said Juarez suffered his 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.
Although Juarez’s defense has not been made public, postpartum psychosis is a mental illness that can affect mothers in the first weeks after giving birth. A mother’s symptoms can come on suddenly, where she loses her “sense of reality,” including hallucinations, delusions, mood swings, and behavioral changes. Postpartum depression tends to last up to four months, but can last a year.
KTVU’s Henry Lee contributed to this report.
. mother San Jose accused of killing her baby choking her while breastfeeding