Defense pushes insanity plea after mother convicted of murdering her three young children

By Dave Andrusko

Carol Coronado (Brad Graverson / Daily Breeze Staff Photographer)

Carol Coronado (Brad Graverson / Daily Breeze Staff Photographer)

It was a little over a year and a half ago that police booked Carol Coronado, then 30, for the brutal murders of her three young children.

When NRL News Today reported on the tragedy, all that was known was that Coronado had been booked on suspicion of murder in the deaths of Sophia, 2 1/2 ; Yazmine, 16 months; and Xenia, 2 months in a fit of knife-wielding violence against the children, May 20, 2014.

The lead in yesterday’s story in the Daily Breeze written by Larry Altman, began by paraphrasing a defense witness:

A mother who brutally stabbed her three young daughters laid across her bed perpendicular to their neatly arranged bodies to form a cross, suggesting she was “sending these children to heaven” because it was safer to be dead than alive…

Last week Coronado was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder “with special circumstances that would send her to prison for the rest of her life,” Altman reported. Coronado’s defense attorney, Stephen Allen, is “trying to sway the judge to find her not guilty by reason of insanity. That verdict would place her in a mental health institution with a chance to someday be released.”

Key to that is Diana Barnes, a marriage and family counselor, who testified that the killings were “an altruistic filicide”–that Coronado believed what she was doing was in the children’s best interest.

But neither the homicide detectives nor the prosecutors believe Coronado was ill. They argued the killings were planned, revenge against a husband” who provided little help with raising the children and wanted a divorce.”

Deputy District Attorney Emily Spear suggested “during questioning of witnesses that Coronado is faking symptoms of postpartum psychosis that are easily found on Internet sites, including Barnes’ own website,” Altman reported.

According to Altman, the defense spent much of last week painting a ghastly portrait of physical and mental abuse of Coronado when she was a child. The issue, it would appear, was not whether she had been severely traumatized as she grew up, but her condition just prior to the murders.

Altman wrote

So far during the case, Barnes and other psychiatrists who interviewed Coronado after the killings described her as mentally ill during the defense case. But her own physician, called by the prosecution, said last week he saw no signs of mental problems and described Coronado as jovial six days before the killings when she asked him to write a note so she could go back to work as an X-ray technician. He questioned who would care for the children and did not write the note.

On Monday, Coronado’s obstetrician said he saw “no signs of postpartum depression or psychosis when Coronado visited him six weeks after Xenia’s birth,” according to Altman.

Altman ended his story by observing that “Also Monday, sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Martindale testified that Coronado asked if she could get a deal if she admitted to killing the children because her husband wanted a divorce.”