A Davis psychiatrist testified Thursday that Aquelin Talamantes said she heard voices the day prosecutors allege she drowned her daughter in a bathtub and that she believed she was saving her 5-year-old from police.
“She thought she was protecting her daughter by drowning her – that police wanted to cut her head off,” Davis psychiatrist Captane Thomson told a Yolo Superior Court jury in Woodland on the third day of testimony in Talamantes’ murder trial.
“She said (the drowning) shouldn’t have happened to her daughter,” adding that Talamantes claimed she “was not thinking,” and that her daughter’s death was an accident.
Talamantes, 29, of Davis faces allegations of first-degree murder and assault on a child younger than 8 causing death. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges in the Sept. 26, 2013, death of Tatiana Garcia.
Prosecutors say Talamantes drowned Tatiana, then put the girl in the trunk of her car before driving to her sister’s Sacramento apartment. Tatiana was found by police and family members, and Talamantes was arrested in her daughter’s death.
Thomson, a Sutter Health psychiatrist who specializes in bipolar and mood disorders and psychopharmacology, interviewed Talamantes in November and again in December.
Much of the testimony in the early days of Talamantes’ murder trial has focused on the Davis woman’s mental state. Talamantes’ defense attorney, Yolo County Deputy Public Defender Sally Fredericksen said a violent childhood marked by abuse and her mother’s 1995 killing planted the seeds of her mental instability.
In emotional testimony Wednesday, Priscilla Talamantes described her sister’s “ranting” and “odd behavior” in the hours before police discovered young Tatiana. Priscilla said Aquelin often said she felt overwhelmed at the prospect of raising her children, Tatiana and 4-year-old Michael.
But Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens has depicted Talamantes as a drug-addicted “professional victim” who resented her children and used her violent upbringing and mother’s death as excuses for her own horrible deed. The prosecutor asked Priscilla Talamantes near the end of her Wednesday testimony: “Is her mother’s death responsible for Tatiana’s death? Is domestic violence responsible for Tatiana’s death?”
Thomson on Thursday said Aquelin told him she went to a Sacramento hospital’s emergency room in the months before Tatiana’s death but failed to pick up her prescribed antipsychotic medications. Aquelin said she couldn’t afford the $41 prescription cost, money she said had to go toward rent and food. She told Thomson she hadn’t taken her medication in two months.
“She said, ‘I got mad at myself for not taking the prescriptions, but I couldn’t afford it and I was busy with my life,’ ” Thomson testified.
But Aquelin Talamantes said her inner voices returned, Thomson testified. They spoke the September day Davis police walked through her home, he said.
Talamantes had asked a Davis police officer that morning if the officer wanted to take her daughter. She told Thomson she thought Child Protective Services was going to take her children that morning because “I wasn’t in my right mind.”
“She said, ‘Why didn’t the police take (the children) away?’ ” Thomson said. “She said, ‘I listened to voices telling me to do it. I wasn’t in the right mind to tell my sisters. I miss my daughter. She was beautiful.’ ”
•Woman testifies about sister accused of killing her niece
•In murder trial, prosecutors say Davis mom resented her children
•Davis police encountered mother and child hours before girl’s body was pulled from trunk