A 14-year-old girl accused of murdering her father had been a victim of abuse during her childhood, a therapist said during the girl's murder trial Wednesday, and the teen-ager feared she would never escape the domestic violence.
The girl, charged with killing Daniel Allen with the help of two friends, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and the battered woman syndrome, Pasadena psychologist Ronald Fairbanks said. That combination, he said, led to "the murder of her father."
Allen's charred body was found last summer buried in a shallow grave alongside railroad tracks in Highland Park. In a tape recording of the girl made by police detectives and played early in the Juvenile Court trial, the minor confessed to planning and carrying out the murder with her boyfriend, Guido Anthony Cuza, and another friend, Evelyn Solorzano, 16. Cuza and Solorzano are being tried as adults for the crime; they face a preliminary hearing in Superior Court on Friday.
On the tape, the girl said her motive was "to get away from my father, so he would stop hitting me." She also said she wanted to live with her boyfriend, whom she claimed to have married in Tijuana, and her father wouldn't let her.
The girl killed because "she didn't believe she could get away," Fairbanks testified.
The minor's attorney, Oscar Acosta, has built his defense around the teen-ager's state of mind resulting from a long history of alleged abuse. The teen-ager had only been living with her father, a graphic artist in Highland Park, for the 10 months prior to the murder. Allen and the girl's mother had split up when she was a toddler, and the girl was raised in Texas by her mother and stepfather.
But by the time Allen and his daughter were reunited in 1991, she had tried to commit suicide in Texas four times, Fairbanks testified. While she was in Texas, "she was present while her mother was abused by her stepfather as well as she herself was abused by her stepfather."
Hoping her life would be different when she came to California, the girl then faced abuse at the hands of her father and felt trapped, Fairbanks said. "She could see she was like her own mother."
Outside of court, Acosta said the defense is trying to show the mental process that led up to the murder. "She decided she was not going to take it the way her mother did."
Prosecutor Shane Burns has sought to show that the teen-ager was not a victim of abuse but rather a willful child who chafed at parental attempts at discipline. According to excerpts read from the girl's diary in court, she despised her father for "interfering" as she ditched school, engaged in sexual activity, tried to get pregnant and ran away to Tijuana with Cuza.