Weeks before Aquelin Talamantes allegedly drowned her daughter in a bathtub, a Sacramento County social worker made unsuccessful attempts to visit her based on a hospital staff’s concerns that she seemed detached from her children.
Child Protective Services worker Carmen Mercado took the stand Friday as Talamantes’ murder trial closed in on its first week in Yolo Superior Court in Woodland. Talamantes, 29, of Davis, stands accused of first-degree murder and assault on a child younger than 8 years old causing death in the Sept. 26, 2013, death of her 5-year-old daughter, Tatiana Garcia.
Prosecutors say Talamantes drowned her daughter in the bathtub of the Davis home they shared with Talamantes’ sister before stowing her in the trunk of her car and driving to another sister’s apartment on Sacramento’s Pocket Road. Police and family members discovered the girl in the car’s trunk, and Talamantes was arrested. She has since pleaded not guilty.
Mercado said she got the call Aug. 13, 2013, to visit Talamantes’ apartment in the Land Park Woods complex on Sacramento’s Fifth Street near Broadway. The unspecified hospital’s referral noted concerns of “possible mental health issues” and that hospital staff and Sacramento police had talked with Talamantes at length before CPS became involved.
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Referring to the hospital’s report, Mercado said Talamantes walked into the hospital with her children.
“As (Talamantes) was being seen, her kids were active, but mom was very focused on issues that she was dealing with,” Mercado said.
Police did not immediately intercede following their talks with Talamantes, Mercado said, but hospital staff called on CPS to follow up. Mercado said her two attempts to reach Talamantes in early September – a knock and a business card at Talamantes’ Sacramento residence and a visit to sister Priscilla Talamantes’ Pocket-area apartment – were unsuccessful.
Mercado testified that the first time she saw Talamantes was the night of Sept. 26, 2013, in a holding cell at Sacramento County Main Jail.
Talamantes’ defense counsel says the Davis woman is mentally unstable, was prescribed anti-psychotic drugs to control her moods and heard voices on numerous occasions including the day of her daughter’s death – the byproducts of a violent childhood and her mother’s 1995 slaying.