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Prosecutor Says Mother Acted Like Drug Dealer

May 18, 1989|CARLOS LOZANO | Times Staff Writer

A Topanga Canyon woman charged with hiding cocaine in the backpack of her 7-year-old daughter, who carried the drug to school, was "not concerned for her child, but of getting rid of the evidence," a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Maria Christina Torres, 40, acted like a drug dealer and not like a mother when she went to the school to retrieve the cocaine, Deputy Dist. Atty. Tracy Watson said in her closing argument of the two-week-long trial in Van Nuys Superior Court.

"The defendant was not concerned for her child, but of getting rid of the evidence," Watson told the jury. "Her actions were that of a drug dealer."

Torres, a Colombian citizen, is charged with child endangerment and possession of cocaine for sale. If convicted, she could be sentenced to seven years in prison.

Children Tasted It

Police were called to Canoga Park Lutheran School on June 13 after Torres' daughter and eight other students told their teachers that they had tasted the powdery substance out of curiosity. The youngsters were taken to a hospital after the substance was found to be cocaine. All were released in good health.

Police said Torres went to the school after lunch to retrieve the cocaine, which she said she later flushed down a toilet. But Watson told the jury that Torres never told teachers that the substance was cocaine, thereby endangering all the children.

Torres was arrested that same afternoon when she came to the school to pick up her daughter.

The defendant has testified that the cocaine was placed in the child's book bag by Denny Meyers, a longtime friend, after she left the backpack in a car she loaned to Meyers.

Torres testified that Meyers was in Kansas. Watson has said that even if authorities could locate Meyers she could not force him to testify because of his "rights against self-incrimination."

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