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OXNARD : Mother Pleads Guilty in Child Abuse Case

November 05, 1994|BARBARA MURPHY

An Oxnard woman who dropped her infant daughter over a six-foot-high fence pleaded guilty Friday to a felony charge of child abuse.

Aretha Marcell Chester, 23, was promised probation by Superior Court Judge Joe D. Hadden when he sentences her Dec. 7. She remains free on her own recognizance until then, Deputy Dist. Atty. Maeve Fox said.

Chester dropped her 3-month-old daughter after arguing with a group of men at Sierra Linda Park in Oxnard. When the men jumped over a chain-link fence, Chester dangled the infant over the fence and dropped her, according to court testimony.

The baby suffered a fractured skull but has since fully recovered, Fox said. The child now lives with her paternal grandmother.

Defense attorney Jorge Alvarado said Chester believed someone was going to catch the baby when she let go.

"She recognizes that by holding the child over the fence she exercised poor judgment . . . and that the child fell and was hurt," Alvarado said.

The defense will seek a sentence that includes no jail time, but possibly community service and training in parenting skills, Alvarado said.

Fox said she has mixed feelings about the court's commitment to place Chester on probation, though she is doubtful the defendant would have been sent to prison in any event.

"She's very young and the baby is fine," the prosecutor said. "I also think (Chester) has real psychological problems. If we can address that while she's on probation, then it's not so bad."

Alvarado said the guilty plea probably will not prevent Chester from someday regaining custody of her daughter. That issue will be handled by a different judge, he said.

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