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November 18, 2003

Woman booked after baby found with tissue in mouth

From: Merced Sun-Star, CA - Nov 18, 2003

By Mike De La Cruz - Merced Sun-Star

LIVINGSTON - A Livingston woman who gave birth to a baby girl in a secluded backyard and reportedly stuffed the newborn's mouth with tissue is in jail on suspicion of attempted murder.

Livingston police Cmdr. Dan Shambaugh said the baby girl, who still had her umbilical cord attached when police arrived, was taken to an area hospital where she was reported to be doing fine on Monday.

Juliana Martinez Dionicio, 24, a deaf mute living with her father in the 1500 block of C Street, was booked Sunday into Merced County Jail on the attempted murder allegation.

She remains in custody in lieu of $500,000 bail, according to a jail official.

Shambaugh said the incident came to light Friday at 11:30 p.m., when an elderly Portuguese-speaking lwoman, living in the 1600 block of C Street, came to the police department.

According to Shambaugh, the woman told police Spanish-speaking volunteers that there was a problem in her backyard involving a lady, her baby, and the homeowner's dog. The elderly lady discovered the woman and baby after going out to see why the dog was barking.

Officer Tyson Terry, responding to the residence, found a heavily secluded approximately 8-foot square makeshift storage area in a corner of the yard next to a doghouse and a chained dog.

The officer reported that he found a woman, identified as Dionicio, who had given birth to a girl in the secluded area overgrown with vines and barricaded with wood. The baby's umbilical cord was still attached.

When officers arrived, the baby was cold to the touch and was leaning up against the trunk of a tree. "The mother was in close proximity but was not holding the baby," Shambaugh said.

Paramedics clamped the umbilical cord and in the process of transporting her to a hospital reportedly found three wads of tissue inside the baby's mouth, the commander said.

The mother also was taken to an area hospital, released Sunday and booked into jail.

According to Shambaugh, the mother had recently arrived from out of state and was living with her father. When contacted, the suspect's father said he was not aware his daughter was pregnant.

The expectant mother walked less than a block to get to the secluded storage area where she had her daughter. "She had to enter the backyard through the front of the residence," Shambaugh said.

When completely recovered the baby will be turned over to the Merced County Child Protective Services. The case is still under investigation, the commander said.

© 2003 Merced Sun-Star