05 March 2014
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – An Ethiopian woman who strangled her 7-month-old son, then told police that he fell out of a third-story window in Normal Heights, was sane at the time of the killing, a jury determined Tuesday.
Zewoinesh Badasso, 35, was convicted last month of first-degree murder and felony child abuse. She faces 25 years to life in prison when she is sentenced April 11.
Deputy District Attorney Nicole Rooney told jurors in her opening statement in the trial’s guilt phase that Badasso strangled her son in two ways — with her hands and with a ligature — on Sept. 7, 2012.
Rooney said Badasso grabbed, squeezed and shook the baby before killing him.
Prior to the killing, Badasso told a therapist that she had anger issues, a history of violence and had difficulty controlling her impulses, according to Rooney.
The boy — named David — was found about 5 p.m by two passersby in an alley below a third-story apartment where Badasso was staying.
“Please let that be a doll and not a baby,” one of the passersby said as they came upon the child, Rooney told the jury.
The person who spotted the body said the mother seemed calm and “uncaring” as they called 911 to try and save her child’s life.
Badasso told police she accidentally dropped the baby while trying to open a window. An autopsy revealed he had been strangled, “murdered by his own mother,” Rooney said.
Defense attorney Amy McDonald told the jury that Badasso was beaten daily by her father in Ethiopia, leaving her blind in one eye, an at 12 years old was held down and had her female genitalia mutilated.
She was also left with memory issues and tended to “disassociate” herself from her problems, her attorney said.
Badasso escaped from Ethiopia and came to the United States in 2000, but suffered from major depression and tried to kill herself at least twice, McDonald said.
The defendant had two miscarriages, began to hear voices and was raped by a stranger in 2011, resulting in her becoming pregnant with David, her attorney said.
The defendant’s doctors and therapists disagreed on whether Badasso should be on medication for anxiety, depression and lack of sleep, McDonald said.
Badasso finally took some prescribed medication and went into a “disassociate state” the day of the killing, feeling like she was in a dream, her attorney said.
“It’s horrifying,” McDonald told the jury, saying her client remembers few details about the killing.
McDonald said Badasso felt helpless watching herself kill her child and imagined that he fell out of the window.