On Thursday, a California state appeals court overturned the murder conviction of a Santa Ana mother who admitted drowning her baby daughter in a bathtub.
The panel of California Court of Appeals judges cited a jury-instructions failure for their decision regarding Lucero Carrera, who was convicted in 2015 of murdering her two-month-old daughter, Kimberly.
Carrera, who lived with her mother, had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, hospitalized several times, and had attempted suicide.
On June 29, 2012, while her mother, Estella, was away, Carrera swallowed “a large quantity” of pills, took off her daughter’s clothes, filled a bathtub, and drowned Kimberly. Estella stated that when she returned, “I asked her ‘Where is the baby?’ She just said to me, ‘Well, I drowned her.'”
She told police that she murdered Kimberly so she “wouldn’t suffer what I suffered.” Despite Carrera’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kira Rubin, focusing on Carrera’s manic and depressive states, and the supposed fact that her family told her not to give up the baby for adoption, jurors found Carrera sane and convicted her of first-degree murder.
The appeals court overturned the verdict, writing that jurors should have been told that they could “consider evidence of Carrera’s mental impairments to determine whether she had actually formed the specific intent required for premeditated murder.”
The jurors had specifically asked whether they could consider her state of mind at the time of the murder. The appeals court added, “In our view, simply telling the jury Carrera’s state of mind was an issue to be considered was not enough. The jury’s questions, their request for readback and their verdict immediately after the readback all demonstrate Carrera’s mental impairment evidence was critical, and strongly suggest the jury did not know how to properly consider it.”
The appeals court justices blamed Rubin for not asking for the specific instructions, commenting, “We simply have no confidence in the outcome of this trial.”
(H/T The Daily Wire)