ORANGE, Calif. — The husband of a woman accused of tossing her disabled 7-month-old son off the fourth story of a hospital parking structure said Wednesday that his wife suffered from postpartum depression and he doesn't blame her for her actions.
The baby, Noe Medina Jr., died of his injuries earlier in the day at the University of California, Irvine, Medical Center, the same day that his mother was charged with murder and felony child abuse.
Sonia Hermosillo, 31, made a brief court appearance but did not enter a plea. She is due back in court Thursday.
Prosecutors allege that Hermosillo removed a helmet that her son wore for a medical condition before tossing him from the parking structure at Children's Hospital of Orange County. She then went back inside the hospital to validate her parking before driving away late Monday, senior deputy district attorney Scott Simmons said.
Hermosillo's husband, Noe Medina, said in an emotional press conference that he didn't blame his wife and urged women to get treatment if they think they might have postpartum depression.
He previously told The Orange County Register that his wife was deeply distraught because their son was diagnosed with congenital muscular torticollis – a twisting of the neck to one side – and wore a helmet to help correct his plagiocephaly, also known as flat-head syndrome.
He had been receiving treatment at Children's Hospital but did not have an appointment the day of the incident.
"My wife was not in her five senses. She didn't know what she was doing," Medina said, choking back tears. "I don't know if many people know what postpartum depression is, but in reality it is something very serious and needs to be treated."
Simmons said Hermosillo's behavior showed she intended to kill her son, regardless of her mental state.
"It's not like she's in a fetal position when the police arrived," he said. "She picks a specific location, drives to the top of the building (and) takes the helmet off. I'm sure she's depressed, the post-partum blues, I'm sure she had some of that."
"It's going to be up to a jury to decide if she had the wherewithal to inform the intent to kill."
Hermosillo's arraignment has been postponed until Sept. 16. Orange County Superior Court Judge Joe Perez set bail at $1 million, but federal immigration officials have a no-bail hold to keep her in custody because she is in the U.S. illegally, said Jim Amormino, sheriff's spokesman.
Hermosillo was being held in the medical ward, where she is receiving a psychological evaluation, he said. The Mexican national is being kept in a cell by herself and wearing a protective gown so she can't injure herself, he added.
The judge appointed a public defender for Hermosillo. The attorney did not comment after the hearing, which was conducted in a jailhouse courtroom and relayed to spectators on a closed-circuit TV.
Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office, said prosecutors were not commenting on a motive.
"We're not going to speculate at this point as to why she may have done it. I don't think there will ever be a satisfactory answer as to why a mother would do something like this to her child," she said.
A witness on the ground saw the baby falling and several people, including a doctor, called 911, said Sgt. Dan Adams, a spokesman for Orange police.
Surveillance video showed Hermosillo's 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 Hermosillo's home.
During the investigation, La Habra police notified detectives that Medina had reported his wife and their son missing, Adams said.
An Orange police officer driving past Children's Hospital about four hours later spotted the SUV on a street about 100 yards from the crime scene and Hermosillo at the wheel, Adams said.
Both La Habra and Orange police agencies declined requests for the 911 tapes, citing the investigation.
County court records show 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 writer Amy Taxin reported from Santa Ana and La Habra. Associated Press videographer John Mone contributed to this report.