As 2013 wore on, Aquelin Talamantes’ mental health appeared to deteriorate significantly – according to court testimony Wednesday – from reporting anxiety to a physician’s assistant in January to allegedly suffering delusions and hallucinations at the time she killed her daughter nine months later.
After evaluating Talamantes, 29, in November and again in December, psychiatrist Captane Thomson testified in Yolo Superior Court that he believed the woman suffered from “acute paranoid psychosis” at the time she held her 5-year-old daughter Tatiana Garcia face-up under her bath water the morning of Sept. 26, killing her. Thomson said Talamantes admitted the act in her second meeting with him – saying “it was quick” – and said she regretted it deeply.
“It was acutely painful” for Talamantes to discuss, Thomson said. “She was terribly remorseful and wished that it could be reversed.”
Talamantes is accused of murder in connection with the little girl’s death in the Davis home they shared with Talamantes’ younger son, then-4-year-old Michael Garcia; Talamantes’ oldest sister, Elisa Torres; and Torres’ teenage son. She then put Tatiana’s body in a bag, stowed it in her car trunk and drove to another sister’s apartment in Sacramento, where authorities found the girl and tried to revive her.
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Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens argues that Talamantes knew what she was doing that day, and acted out of spite. He charges that she resented her children for ruining her career aspirations, abused drugs and is now trying to escape blame by pointing to abuse she suffered as a child.
Talamantes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Her attorney, Deputy Public Defender Sally Fredericksen, said her client’s sustained physical and sexual abuse as a child, the murder of her mother when she was 11 years old and a violent relationship with the father of her children have contributed to her unraveling.
So unraveled was she the day she drowned her daughter that she was in a “different mind state,” Thomson testified that Talamantes told him. “She said she thought the cops would ‘cut my daughter’s head off.’ ”
Though not included in his testimony Wednesday, he said last week that Talamantes was hearing voices in addition to suffering the delusions that the cops were after her daughter.
Talamantes interacted with Davis police officers the morning of Tatiana’s death after a benign traffic stop ultimately led to a welfare check inside the home. Though they observed strange behavior by Talamantes, they determined that she did not meet the requirement for a “5150” involuntary mental health hold and left.
Torres, who cared for her six younger siblings after their mother died in 1995, has testified that she, too, witnessed her sister’s downward spiral. Couzens, who rested his case Wednesday, has continued to downplay Talamantes’ alleged mental health crisis in questioning Fredericksen’s witnesses. Thomson’s testimony continues Thursday.
In January 2013, Talamantes saw a physician’s assistant at a community clinic in Oak Park for back pain, a sinus infection and anxiety. She left with prescriptions to treat all three. Later that month, a wellness counselor at another clinic diagnosed her with “major depressive disorder” after Talamantes reported feeling anxious, unmotivated and overwhelmed. Asked by Couzens, counselor Trina King testified that Talamantes never mentioned any kind of hallucinations or seizures.
King saw Talamantes again April 17 when she reported feeling anxious and paranoid. Concerned by her behavior, King brought in a supervisor, and they came up with a safety plan. That included coping skills and cutting down on marijuana use, as “typically marijuana is linked to paranoia,” King said, again after questioning by Couzens.
Two days later, Talamantes went to an emergency room and, diagnosed with “depression and psychosis,” ended up at the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center on a “5150” hold. On April 22, employees there diagnosed her with borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to testimony and documents presented in court.
On May 1, Talamantes called King to tell her about the 5150 hold and ask about getting her prescriptions filled. King gave her the number to a county clinic.
The day she was arrested in connection with her daughter’s death, blood tests showed opiates – likely from pain pills – and Prozac in her system. She tested negative for marijuana, alcohol and all other drugs.
Also absent from her system was her Resperidone, Thomson testified, “the one medication that would have helped control her symptoms.” She hadn’t taken one, he said, since leaving Sacramento’s mental health facility in April.
Since being taken into custody, Talamantes has resumed anti-psychotic medications.
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