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Attorneys for Woman Accused of Killing Niece May Seek to Exhume Baby's Body

June 07, 2003|Zeke Minaya | Times Staff Writer

Attorneys for a Santa Ana woman accused of smothering her 9-month-old niece said Friday they will ask the court's permission to exhume the infant's body for further examination if existing autopsy results fail to show their client's innocence.

The mother of Brenda Martinez would support the move because she believes her daughter died of undetected health problems while in the care of her aunt, said John Patrick Dolan, attorney for Teresa Hurtado.

On Friday, a preliminary hearing for Hurtado, 20, was postponed until Monday, allowing a defense expert to examine the Orange County coroner's autopsy results and other evidence. David Posey, a former pathologist for the Los Angeles County coroner's office, will also look at tissue samples and photographs, Dolan said.

Hurtado, who is charged with murder and child abuse resulting in death, is being held on $1-million bail.

The coroner's report shows no physical signs of suffocation and an exhumation can be avoided by relying on results that show Brenda had other ailments, Dolan said. But if Hurtado is ordered to stand trial, he will ask that Brenda's body be exhumed for more testing.

Santa Ana police arrested Hurtado on May 5 and allege she smothered her crying niece by holding her tightly against her chest in an attempt to quiet the girl.

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