A judge ordered a psychological evaluation for a 35- year-old Thermal woman charged in the death of her newborn son, who had methamphetamine in his system when he was found dead in a Mecca park.
An expert was appointed to examine Esperanza Mulato at her attorney’s request, and her mental health records were ordered released at a hearing Monday at Indio’s Larson Justice Center. The report was ordered filed by Feb. 9, and Mulato was ordered to return on that date for a felony settlement conference.
Mulato was arrested in Thermal Oct. 14, 2013, the day the baby was found at Mecca Community Park in the 65200 block of Coahuilla Street, but charges weren’t filed until earlier this month. In California, a suspect can be held only 48 hours without being charged with a crime.
It wasn’t immediately clear why it took over a year to file charges.
Mulato was re-arrested Dec. 12, and pleaded not guilty Dec. 17 to one felony count each of voluntary manslaughter and child cruelty.
According to a declaration filed in support of an arrest warrant, a park maintenance employee found the baby inside a leg of a pair of women’s pants. Paramedics declared the baby dead at the scene.
“The umbilical cord and placenta were still attached to the baby,” Riverside County sheriff’s Investigator Alberto Loureiro wrote.
Sheriff’s deputies found Mulato sitting on a park bench with blood on her pants, according to the declaration. She was taken to JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio and arrested that evening, according to sheriff’s officials.
Under questioning by detectives, Mulato said “she did not know who the father was because she slept with a lot of men and never confessed what happened,” according to the declaration.
In another instance, Mulato told detectives she gave birth in the park’s playground, and the infant “slipped from her hands and fell to the ground from the jumbo gym,” a three-foot drop, Loureiro wrote. “She said her baby cried for about 15 minutes after he fell before she passed out.”
Mulato said she snorted meth and drank beer “hours” before giving birth, and both she and the baby tested positive for meth, according to Loureiro, who said the Riverside County Coroner’s Office listed the infant’s cause of death as “acute methamphetamine intoxication.”
Mulato was initially booked under Esmeralda Martinez. The judge asked her to clarify her legal name, to which she told a translator it is Esperanza Mulato. When our reporter asked for details, the public defender did not know why she either told police or initially provided identification as ‘Esmeralda Martinez’ when she was arrested in October of 2013.