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Woman Who Abducted Girl, 4, Sent to Psychiatric Facility

March 23, 2004|Christiana Sciaudone | Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles woman charged with kidnapping a 4-year-old girl was sentenced Monday to five years' probation and ordered to live up to six months in a psychiatric facility.

Patricia Cornejo, 50, pleaded no contest to abducting Jessica Cortez in a case that attracted national attention. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Terry Green also gave Cornejo credit for the time spent incarcerated.

In March 2003, Cornejo was declared incompetent after she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and dependence on alcohol by the state Health and Welfare Agency, according to court records.

In November, after she had spent time in a mental hospital, Cornejo was declared competent to stand trial, the records show.

Cornejo told probation officials that she had been sexually abused as a young teenager. Her sister described Cornejo, the mother of two children, as a "deeply troubled woman," according to court documents.

On Aug. 11, 2002, Jessica was playing in Echo Park across from where her parents were selling tacos when she disappeared. Two days later, Cornejo brought her to a South Los Angeles clinic.

Cornejo was arrested, and Jessica, who was not injured, was reunited with her parents.

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