Family of woman charged with smothering baby while breastfeeding says she does not deserve jail

The family and friends of a California woman who’s been charged with murdering her 8-month-old infant are now begging for help in the form of donations on the basis that the woman herself needs help, not incarceration.

The story traces back to Nov. 16th, when the San Jose Police Department received a call about two unconscious 8-month-old twins, one of whom wasn’t breathing.

When the authorities arrived, they began “lifesaving measures,” but one of the twins — the one who wasn’t breathing — ultimately died at a nearby hospital.

A subsequent investigation found that the mother, Celina Juarez, had grown frustrated while trying to breastfeed her two twins, Melani and Zari.

“The suspect said she picked up Melani and pushed her very hard against her right breast ‘not allowing her to come up for air.’ The suspect told detectives she wanted Melani to ‘latch on’ to her breast to drink breast milk and that she became ‘frustrated’ when she did not,” Bay Area station KRON reported on the 18th, quoting from court documents.

“According to the documents, the suspect felt Melani gasping for air and saw her legs kicking as she kept pushing her against her body. The suspect said she believes she held Melani against her breast forcefully for another 10 minutes and upon seeing that she was not breathing, continued to press Melani’s mouth against her breast for another two minutes before removing her and placing her unconscious body on the bed,” according to KRON.

She then did the same — trying to force-feed her — with Zari, who too eventually wound up on the bed unconscious next to Melani.

“The suspect said she waited approximately 20 minutes before walking into the living room and asking her mother for help. According to the court docs, the suspect and her mother attempted chest compressions and CPR. When her brother, who had been out, returned home, they informed him that the twins were not breathing, and he called 911,” according to KRON.

Melani died soon after at a nearby hospital. Following this incident on the 16th, Juarez was arrested and charged two days later with Melani’s death. But her family and friends now say arresting and charging her was a mistake and are raising money for her legal defense.

“As you all know, our daughter Melani has passed away and now Celina is fighting for her freedom, accused of being the cause. Those who know her, know this is not in her character. She has devoted her entire life to children and her life revolves around our children and our family,” a GoFundMe statement from her husband, Artemio Juarez, reads.

“In hopes of restoring her freedom, so she can receive the help she needs, we are asking our community to rally around her and support us so that we can provide the best legal representation for Celina. There are two sides to every story and we need all the help we can get to give Celina the chance to say hers! This judgment is not right she is a victim here too,” his statement continues.

The GoFundMe fundraiser contains quotes from over a dozen other individuals, including friends and family members, all testifying to Juarez’s supposedly good character.

“We love her and we know the truth, and we wish everyone can be more aware about mental health and that nobody is immune, she is going through a tragedy and she deserves freedom and mental health services, not incarcerating her for an accident,'” friend Jesus Carbajal said.

“This is a mother who needs help, not to be vilified. I know her heart, and will always be here for her, as she has supported me, through thick and thin,” Crystal Conroy, another friend, said.

“We need to support Celina to ultimately get the professional medical and mental health support that she needs, to be restored to the Celina we all know. Not only for Celina, but for her husband and her children for their future,” a third friend, Michael, said.

However, members of the general public appear to strongly disagree with this assessment from Juarez’s friends and family members.


It appears the consensus is that if Juarez needed mental help, then she should have sought it out before allegedly murdering her child …

Vivek Saxena


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