A San Jose mother accused of killing her young daughter because she believed the girl was possessed by demons faced a judge on Tuesday.
Claudia Hernandez sat by herself in court, shackled, wearing the brown garb of an inmate in protective custody. Hernandez, her brother, Rene Hernandez-Santos, and her father, Rene Hernandez Sr., are all facing charges of child abuse leading to death after allegedly spending more than seven hours choking and starving the child.
“This one is very difficult to stomach,” deputy district attorney Rebekah Wise said. “The victim in this case was particularly vulnerable. She was a 3-year-old girl. And these were people that she trusts. It was her mother, her uncle and her grandfather.”
The district attorney says the trio believed the child was possessed by demons because she would wake up at night screaming.
Claudia Hernandez brought her daughter to a small family Pentecostal church on Second Street where her father and uncle are preachers. Court documents show the child was strangled on and off for seven hours, with the trio repeatedly sticking fingers down her throat so she could vomit and release the demons.
Weeks later, Claudia Hernandez posted a video on YouTube.
“I can sit here and be negative about the thing, like I wish I could go back, this and that. But it’s like, there’s no point of me doing that,” she said in the video. “I cannot change what it is. It is what it is.”
Legal analyst Steven Clark said as horrifying as the allegations might be, it won’t be easy to come back with a 25-to-life sentence for the suspects if they’re found guilty.
“The defendants are going to say they were well intentioned but misguided,” Clark said. “They thought they were helping this child by ridding the child of a demon.”
Clark said witnesses might be hard to come by and freedom of religion could also become a factor in the case.
In the end, Clark said he wouldn’t be surprised if a jury comes back with a manslaughter conviction instead.
Source: NBC Bay Area