Santa Ana Mother Accused of Murder with Special Circumstances (CA Penal Code 187-199)

For most of the country, dealing with custody battles amidst a divorce is customary.  During the process, the question as to whether children are better off with one parent than the other arises.

Both seemed to have typical problems in regards to the custody of their two children, 13-year-old and 9-year-old (names withheld for privacy). For over a year, he had difficulty seeing his children, as she would not allow it.  However, he was granted full custody of both children recently and expected their mother to return them to him in Georgia, where he now resides. Instead, law enforcement officials found her alone in a crashed car in Orange County this weekend, with no sign of the children anywhere.  As it turns out, she informed officials that her children’s bodies were in a hotel in Santa Ana.

The mother has been charged with murder with special circumstances, or “capital murder” (CA Penal Code 187-199), if convicted, she faces the death penalty.  Yet, the media seems to have focused only on the pain and suffering of the father and not on possibilities for her defense.  Her ex-husband seems to have been an absent father by all accounts, often failing to pay child support payments and spending most of his time at work as a contractor in Afghanistan.  Whatever the dispute between them, in order for prosecutors to successfully convict her of murder with special circumstances, they must be able to prove to a jury that ‘special circumstances’ apply in her case.  These ‘special circumstances’ could be anything from murder via poisoning to multiple murder convictions.  Information has yet to be released regarding the tragic circumstances of the children’s deaths.