For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
MOTHER CONVICTED OF ABUSING 4-YEAR-OLD GIRL, WHO WEIGHED ONLY 18 POUNDS, BY DEPRIVING HER OF FOOD AND MEDICAL CARE
SANTA ANA – A mother was convicted and sentenced today for abusing her 4-year-old daughter by depriving her of food and medical care, causing the child to be severely under-weight at only 18 pounds. Antonia Benitez, 36, Santa Ana, pleaded guilty to the court to three felony counts of child abuse with sentencing enhancements for great bodily injury to a child under 5. She was sentenced to a court offer to two years in jail, three years of formal probation, and one year participation in a child abuser program. The People advocated for a state prison sentence.
At the time of the crime, the defendant was a mother to nine children ranging in age from 4 to 16 years old.
Prior to June 2013, Benitez abused her 4-year-old daughter, Jane Doe, by depriving her of food, care, and medical attention.
In July 2012, Jane Doe was hospitalized for being under-weight. The case was not reported to law enforcement at that time.
On June 4, 2013, Benitez took Jane Doe to the hospital for an infected wound to the victim’s leg. She failed to care for her daughter and abused her by failing to adequately feed the victim, who weighed only 18 pounds.
The Social Services Agency and Santa Ana Police Department investigated this case, and the Orange County District Attorney filed charges against Benitez in July 2013.
At the time of the crime, Jane Doe and the defendant’s other children were placed in protective custody.
Jane Doe is in the custody of family members.
Deputy District Attorney Caroline Smith of the Family Protection Unit prosecuted this case.