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Child abuse suspect in court

Posted: Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Barbara Garcia of Watsonville made her first appearance in court Tuesday on charges of child abuse that include attempted murder. (Contributed photo)

WATSONVILLE — Barbara Garcia, the Watsonville woman who was arrested May 9 after she reportedly beat a child that she was caring for, made her first appearance in court Tuesday. Garbed in maroon prison clothing and wearing wrist shackles, Garcia, 18, was represented by defense attorney, Diana August, in the courtroom of Timothy Volkman.

Garcia, petite and lightly built, did not enter a plea to the felony charges and a further arraignment was set for Friday at 8:15 a.m. Volkman outlined five charges against Garcia including attempted murder and abuse of a child causing great bodily injury.

Garcia sat in the courtroom appearing meek and somewhat stunned. Moon-eyed at times, she often searched the room and occasionally scanned the dozen or so people in the audience.

Watsonville Police Sgt. Saul Gonzalez said police responded to the 500 block of California Street May 8 to a report of a child abuse. The caller indicated he heard his female neighbor hitting her 1-year-old daughter.

Officer Efren Martinez contacted Garcia who was caring for her boyfriend’s 15-month old daughter, Gonzalez said. Martinez noticed the child was unresponsive and had bruising around her eyes. Watsonville Fire and American Medical Response paramedics were called and took the infant to Watsonville Community Hospital for evaluation. The infant was eventually flown by medical hospital to a trauma center out of county once it was learned the baby suffered head trauma.

Garcia was detained and police learned that Garcia is several months pregnant. The child’s father had been working in the evenings and had left Garcia to care for his daughter.

Gonzalez said Garcia was sitting on the floor and the child was standing in front of her, based on witness accounts. Without provocation, Garcia violently swung her hand and reportedly slapped the child on the head, knocking the child off her feet as she flew several feet away and lay motionless on the ground. Garcia then allegedly grabbed the child by the hair and dragged the child on her lap and continued slapping her in the face.

On the evening of May 9, the neighbor heard a similar disturbance and recorded the same violence against the child and called the police.

Detectives arrested and interviewed Garcia who, at first, minimized her actions and told investigators the child would not stop crying, Gonzalez said. When confronted with the fact there was video evidence, Garcia admitted to abusing the girl.

“We’re concerned about the well being of the child,” said prosecutor Erika Ziegenhorn. The child has since been released to Child Protective Services. Ziegenhorn asked the court to ratchet the bail up from $50,000 to $100,000, which Volkman approved.

The child’s father was unaware of the beating incidents, Gonzalez said.

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to call the Watsonville Police Department Crime Tip line at 728-3544 or the Watsonville Police Department Investigation Bureau at 768-3352.

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