A 54-year-old woman charged for the death of her 3-year-old daughter in East Palo Alto 27 years ago made her initial appearance in San Mateo County Superior Court this week after fleeing to Mexico following the death and then being found last week in Southern California.
Yolanda Ortega is charged with murder and child endangerment for the death of her daughter Yoani Sanchez, who died at Stanford Hospital less than an hour after paramedics responded at about 11:55 a.m. on June 28, 1993, to her being reported unresponsive in the 2300 block of Ralmar Avenue, San Mateo County prosecutors said.
While autopsy results were pending on the toddler, Ortega and her husband fled to Mexico, leaving their other three children ages 4, 1 and 17 days old behind, and they were taken into Child Protective Services, according to the district attorney's office.
The autopsy found evidence of serious child abuse, including recent and older bruising, a fractured rib and strikes with some sort of object. The cause of death was blunt trauma to the neck and chest, and witnesses said Ortega inflicted the injuries, prosecutors said.
After a tip about Ortega's whereabouts, the U.S. Marshals Service took her into custody as she entered a shopping center in Oxnard in Ventura County on July 7.
Ortega made her initial appearance in court in Redwood City on Monday and had the county's Private Defender Program assigned to represent her. She did not enter a plea and was ordered held on $10 million bail, with her next court date set for July 21, prosecutors said.