UPDATE 6/28/19 -- The arraignment of Yareli Diaz, who is charged with the murder of her one day old infant, Mia Cielo Diaz, was postponed today, due to her inability to appear in court.
In a brief proceeding today, in the courtroom of Mendocino Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman, defense attorney Kevin Davenport explained that Diaz was being held under safety watch in the Mendocino County Jail, due to concerns over her mental health. Given that a psychologist had not been able to evaluate her, she had not been cleared to attend the proceeding, and could not be present. As result the arraignment was delayed until Tuesday, and the prosecution had objection.
Her bail remains at $500,000, though the defense stated that he wished to address that at the arraignment.
About nine family members, including people who appeared to be her parents, attended the proceeding, but decline to comment. Davenport also declined to comment.
Dale Trigg of the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office, represented the prosecution.
6/26/19 — A woman was arrested yesterday for the alleged murder of her one day old daughter, Mia Cielo Diaz, who died of asphxia hours after being born. Yareli Diaz, 24 of Ukiah, was charged with murder after an investigation that lasted over a year, and will be arraigned in Mendocino Superior Court tomorrow, Thursday.
Diaz gave birth to the child at about 2:45 p.m. on April 3, 2018, in the bathroom of her home in the 2400 block of N. State St. just north of Ukiah. According to her initial statement to investigators she claimed she was unaware that she was pregnant. Authorities at the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) allege that after giving birth, she cleaned up the bathroom in an attempt to hide the birth from her own parents, and then placed the child in a parked car, wrapped in a towel, and eventually went to work, without having given any “aid or care” to the baby.
According to investigators Diaz later told a friend about the child, and the friend convinced her to take the baby to the hospital. She was taken to Ukiah Valley Medical Center, where attempts were made by doctors to save the child, but they were unsuccessful. It appears that the child was dead by the time she arrived at the hospital.
The criminal complaint filed with the court states that Diaz did, “commit the crime of murder, a felony violation of Section 187(a) of the California Penal Code, in that said defendant did unlawfully, with deliberation and premeditation, and with malice aforethought murder a human being, to wit, Mia Cielo Diaz.”
Lt. Shannon Barney of the MCSO explained in an interview a towel and the placenta had been covering the child’s nose in the car, and that, “The doctor lists that as the cause of death and not a manual smothering.”
A post mortem examination later conducted by a forensic pathologist showed that the child was “a full term, healthy female.”
It does not appear that the child’s father had been aware of the pregnancy. Diaz has at least one other child, who is apparently cared for primarily by her own parents. No one else has been charged in relation to this crime.
Soon after the child arrived at the hospital, hospital staff called law enforcement. Initially the Ukiah Police Department responded, but found that the incident had occurred outside of city limits and handed things off to the MCSO, which proceeded with the investigation. The investigation took over a year, and included a long wait for autopsy results to be returned and questioning to proceed. During this time Diaz was not charged, or arrested.
Diaz was arrested for the crime yesterday afternoon at her home, on a warrant for murder. It appears to be her first arrest in Mendocino County.
California has a "Safely Surrendered Baby" law which allows anyone to drop off a newborn infant at a designated Safely Surrendered Baby site within 72 hours of birth confidentially, with no questions asked. Babies can be reclaimed for up to 14 days after birth. These locations include hospitals and often fire stations, and can be identified by a displayed blue baby logo. They can also be found by calling "DIAL 1.877.BABY.SAF (1-877-222-9723)" More information about the program is available here: http://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/Safely-Surrendered-Baby
The law is intended to "save lives of newborn infants at risk of abandonment by encouraging parents or persons with lawful custody to safely surrender the infant." More than 931 babies have been surrendered in California between when the law went into effect in 2001 and 2017.
Here is the full press release from the MCSO:
DATE: "June 26, 2019"MCSO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Incident Number: 2018-09499
Crime/Incident: 187 PC [Murder]
Location: 2400 Block of North State Street, Ukiah CA
Date of Incident: Incident- 04/03/2018
Arrest- 06/25/2019 @ 5:45 PM
Time: 10:08 PM
Victim(s): Mia Cielo Diaz, infant (1 day old), Ukiah CA
Suspect(s): Yareli Diaz, 24 years of age, Ukiah CA
Written By: Lieutenant Shannon Barney
Synopsis: On 4/03/2018 around 10:05 PM the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office was called to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center on the report of a suspicious death of an infant, decedent Mia Diaz, who was less than one day old. Deputies learned the infant had been delivered by the suspect, Yareli Diaz, earlier that day. In Diaz's initial statement she claimed that she was unaware that she was pregnant but delivered the baby while in the bathroom at her home. The death of the child was determined to be suspicious, as it appeared to be a health baby with no obvious cause of death, and the suspect's statements were inconsistent. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives were assigned to continue the investigation.
During the investigation Detectives learned Diaz delivered the child around 2:45 PM but failed to render any aid or care to the child. Diaz cleaned up the bathroom in what appeared to be an attempt to conceal the child's birth from her parents. Diaz wrapped the child in a towel and carried the child to a parked vehicle and placed the child in the rear seat area and left her there while she (Diaz) went back into the house. The outdoor temperature on the afternoon of 4/3/18 was 77 degrees fahrenheit according to the National Weather Service.
Diaz later responded to work shortly before 6:00 PM and worked until approximately 8:45 PM where she left for work to meet a friend. Diaz then told the friend what had happened and the friend convinced her to immediately take the baby to the hospital for care. Detectives believed between the birth and the arrival at the hospital the infant had received no care from Diaz. Life saving measures were attempted by hospital staff but they were not successful.
A post mortem examination was later conducted by a forensic pathologist and the infant was found to be a full term, healthy female. In August the Mendocino County Coroner's Office received the final cause of death from the pathologist. The cause of death was determined to be asphyxia due to the baby's mouth and nose being covered by towels and the placenta.
Detectives learned Diaz did in fact know she had been pregnant and that she had delivered a child several years before that her parents were helping her raise. At the conclusion of the investigation Detectives submitted the case to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office for review and consideration of a charge of murder. The DA's Office then filed a case in the Mendocino County Superior Court and requested an arrest warrant charging Diaz with murder.
On 6/25/2019 around 5:45 PM Deputies responded to the 2400 block of North State Street in Ukiah and took Diaz into custody on the warrant. She was later booked into the County Jail on one count of murder. Her bail was set at $500,000.
Approved by: Lieutenant Shannon Barney