morning to try Rachael Marie Menchaca, 28, on charges of
second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and child
endangerment, all felonies. Menchaca was indicted in connection
with the September 2006 death of her 9-month-old daughter Isabella
Hollister – Police officers took the stand Wednesday in the murder trial of a Hollister mother and described the scene of the woman’s apartment after she called 911 seeking medical help for her daughter.
A jury of nine women and three men was empaneled Wednesday morning to try Rachael Marie Menchaca, 28, on charges of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment, all felonies. Menchaca was indicted in connection with the September 2006 death of her 9-month-old daughter Isabella Menchaca.
Rachel Menchaca faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.
Both attorneys told jurors in their opening statements that the infant ingested a methadone pill and that toxicology reports show Menchaca was high on methamphetamine at the time.
To begin his opening statement, San Benito County Deputy District Attorney Steven Wagner played a recording of Menchaca’s 911 call to the jury.
“This is a case of too little, too late,” Wagner argued.
Wagner told jurors testimony will show Menchaca was aware of her daughter’s health problem hours before she called 911, but that she failed to act.
Menchaca’s attorney, Greg LaForge, described the death of Isabella Menchaca more than a year ago as “the tragic of most tragic accidents.”
LaForge said Rachel Menchaca’s uncle, who is in jail in San Jose on drug charges, had stayed with his client for two weeks and left the methadone at her apartment.
LaForge played a tape from an interview of Menchaca conducted by police officer Rudy Rodriguez, a detective at the time, shortly after Menchaca’s 911 call.
“I really, really want to go to the hospital,” Menchaca told Rodriguez. “That’s what I want to do.”
The first witness, Hollister police officer David Blair, described arriving at 3:11am Sept. 11, 2006, to Menchaca’s apartment in the 1400 block of Valley View Road in Hollister. Blair said the apartment was disheveled and messy.
Blair testified Menchaca told him that she ran cold water on the infant’s forehead and attempted CPR after she had stopped breathing shortly before calling 911.
Hollister police Sgt. George Ramirez testified that Menchaca approached him with a small white pill and told him, “I found this pill.” The sergeant told the court he had Menchaca put the pill in an envelope, which he took and handed to Blair to book into evidence.
During his testimony, Ramirez described Menchaca as “uncharacteristic” while he was at her apartment that morning.
“She’s showing no concern for the child,” Ramirez said. “She’s just going about her business at three in the morning.”
Ramirez testified that Menchaca asked “one time if the baby was breathing” and later played video games with her son after medical personnel and firefighters had left the apartment.
LaForge then played the September 2006 tape of Menchaca’s 911 call for Ramirez. LaForge asked if Menchaca seemed “uncharacteristic” from the call.
“That sounds like a concerned parent,” Ramirez said.