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Woman Testifies in Death of Baby

She says her daughter was scared of the defendant and obeyed his order to take the injured Oxnard toddler to a hospital.

January 30, 2003|Tracy Wilson | Times Staff Writer

Suspected child-killer Patrick Santillano told his girlfriend to take a mortally wounded 14-month-old boy to an Oxnard hospital because she was less likely to face a child-abuse arrest, a witness testified Wednesday.

Santillano, 33, is charged with murder, torture, child abuse causing death and mayhem in connection with the Oct. 22, 2000, death of Demitri Robledo.

The toddler lived with the defendant and his girlfriend, Teresa Rodriguez, in an Oxnard apartment while the boy's mother served time on drug charges. Rodriguez has since pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and mayhem for failing to stop the alleged abuse.

Santillano's attorney contends it was Rodriguez, not his client, who starved and neglected the boy and is responsible for his death.

On Wednesday, Rodriguez's mother testified her daughter was scared of the defendant and obeyed him when he told her to take Demitri to the hospital.

"She called Patrick and said the baby wasn't breathing and he said to take him to the hospital because she won't get arrested or anything," Christina Rodriguez said.

Authorities say Oxnard police arrested the daughter after doctors found signs of abuse on the malnourished boy, who died from a blow to the head. Teresa Rodriguez kept silent for weeks before entering a plea agreement with prosecutors and implicating Santillano.

Under questioning by defense attorney Steve Powell, Christina Rodriguez, an admitted heroin user, told jurors she advised her daughter to "tell the truth and do what you have to do."

Powell asked whether that included lying to frame Santillano, but the mother denied that was her daughter's motivation.

"She's not pointing fingers at anyone," she testified. "She is just telling the truth."

In other testimony, a witness told jurors she gave the couple stolen baby clothes, pacifiers, bibs and blankets in exchange for heroin, which Santillano sold from the apartment.

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