Defense attorney

Judge Rules Mother Was Sane When She Killed 3 Daughters

A woman who fatally stabbed her three young daughters at their home in an unincorporated area near Carson was sane at the time of the killings, a judge ruled Thursday.

Carol Coronado faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when she is sentenced Jan. 7.

Coronado, 32, was convicted of first-degree murder Nov. 30 in a non-jury trial for the May 20, 2014, killings of her daughters, Sophia, 2, Yazmine, 16 months, and Xenia, 2 months, who were stabbed to death and lined up in order of their ages. Superior Court Judge Ricardo Ocampo also found true the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders.

Coronado was acquitted of an attempted murder charge involving her mother, who found the children's bodies.

After finding her guilty, Ocampo then presided over a second phase of the trial, hearing testimony about whether Coronado was sane at the time of the killings or suffering from postpartum depression. Ocampo heard the case after Coronado waived a jury trial.

Prosecutors decided earlier not to seek the death penalty against Coronado.

The first phase of her trial was disrupted late last month when Coronado began shouting in court and had to be physically removed from the courtroom.

Testimony was put on hold while Coronado was evaluated by a court-appointed psychiatrist.

During the trial, her husband, Rodolfo ``Rudy'' Coronado, told the judge his wife was behaving strangely in the days leading up to the crimes.

Coronado said he began sleeping on the couch three or four days before the killings "because she had been acting weird throughout the days before."

"She would just do weird things like go and shut the power off" while he was watching television and, on one occasion, jumping and landing on his chest, he said.

He said his wife "screamed like a weird scream" for no reason shortly after he woke up the day of the killings, and that he called her mother to report her behavior.

Rodolfo Coronado testified that he went outside to work on his truck in an effort to avoid an argument and was later summoned to a McDonald's restaurant after his wife said her car had run out of gasoline.

He said he questioned his wife about what she was doing and what was going through her head.

"They were a little dirty, like I could smell one of the diapers," the defendant's husband said of the children, telling the judge that his wife had a "blank stare" on her face.

He said the family returned home and that he later went inside to inform his wife that he was going to an auto parts store.

"She was laying on the bed," he said.

Rodolfo Coronado testified that he talked to his wife from the doorway and told her to get up, but she responded that she was tired.

He noted that the couple's oldest daughter had feces "all over her," and said that he questioned his wife about what was wrong and "what extreme this is going to get to."

"I definitely knew something was wrong," he said. "She didn't act the way Carol acts."

He said he left the home to go to the auto parts store and was back working under his truck when his mother-in-law came out of the house screaming, "Don't go in there. She killed them."

The woman's husband said he ran inside the couple's home, pushed the bedroom door open and saw his daughters laying on the bed, but he didn't see any blood.

Rodolfo Coronado testified that he saw his wife with a knife in her left hand and that she told him that she loved him before stabbing herself. He described his wife as having a "blank stare" on her face.

He said he later saw knives lined up on the table that were normally kept in a cabinet out of their daughters' reach.
He said he ran outside to get his phone and call 911.

During cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney Emily Spear asked him to look at a photo of his three daughters while they were alive.

"I don't want to see it," he said.

Defense attorney Stephen T. Allen agreed that the defense would stipulate that the photos were of the couple's three children.

When asked if he didn't want his wife prosecuted, he eventually responded, "I don't know, I'm confused on that answer. I have mixed emotions."

He called his wife "the best woman that I've met so far," and said he didn't recall questioning his wife's parenting abilities when he spoke with investigators after the crime.

The woman's husband said he and his wife began arguing after they began having children and acknowledged that he complained to her about the house being dirty.

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