Brain-damaged Spring Valley woman who killed infant son receives 15 years in manslaughter plea



Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe on Monday, June 23 announced that 24-year-old Spring Valley resident Maria Oliva Guaman-Guaman pled guilty to one count of manslaughter in the first degree, a class “B” felony, relating to the death of her newborn child last fall. DA Zugibe said Guaman-Guaman, who is an illegal immigrant, will serve 15 years in state prison and then be deported to her native Ecuador.

The guilty plea is based upon the reports of two independent psychiatrists. Dr. Marc E. Tarle, a psychiatrist hired by the defense, examined Guaman-Guaman and found she had a full-scale IQ of 53. Additionally, Tarle found the defendant is living with Moderate Intellectual Disability, having suffered brain damage after being kicked in the head by a horse at seven-years-old. The accident also caused her eye to be dislodged and led to her use of a glass eye.

Tarle concluded that at the time of the homicide, the defendant suffered from an extreme emotional disturbance. Dr. Dominic Ferro, a psychiatrist hired by the prosecution, also examined the defendant and concurred that Guaman-Guaman committed the homicide under the influence of an extreme emotional disturbance. Guaman-Guaman’s reduced mental faculties did not completely absolve her of guilt in the case, however, and the prosecution and defense agreed on the 15-year manslaughter plea.

District Attorney Zugibe said, “In admitting that her violent actions were solely responsible for the death of her helpless, innocent son, the defendant has proven unfit for society. In light of the circumstances surrounding this tragic case, the sentence to be imposed is appropriate. She must live with what she did for the rest of her life.”

On November 12, 2013, Guaman-Guaman gave birth to a full-term baby boy at her residence. The DA said the defendant has admitted to strangling the infant with a ligature and tossing his body into a recycling container outside a convenience store in the Village of Spring Valley. The dumpster was transported to Brookfield Recycling at 13 Hayes Street in Elmsford, New York, where a worker discovered the infant late on November 12. The body was found in a plastic bag amid discarded cardboard. His umbilical cord was still attached.

A probe into the circumstances of the child’s death led detectives from the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and the Elmsford Police Department to the Village of Spring Valley. Investigators quickly focused on the area near the Maple Avenue Convenience Store. Discarded items, including lottery tickets sold at the location, were found among the trash discarded with the infant.

The defendant was identified as the baby’s mother based on DNA samples provided to detectives in Spring Valley. Guaman-Guaman was arrested on December 10, 2013.

Zugibe noted, “This case should serve as a reminder that, under New York’s Safe Haven law, a parent can anonymously surrender an unwanted newborn baby to personnel in a safe place, such as a hospital, a police station or a firehouse, without repercussions.”

Executive Assistant District Attorney Stephen Moore is prosecuting the case. She will be formally sentenced on September 4, 2014.

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