The mother of the 20-year-old woman accused of slashing her 11-month-old daughter’s throat said she thought she may have been a danger to herself but never to the child.
Emily L. Castro, of the 100 block of Northeast Drive, faced the second day of a three-day trial before Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck on Wednesday. She is charged with attempted murder and battery in the April attack on 11-month old Janyla Gonzales inside a home in the 3700 block of Parkhill Avenue.
Surbeck will decide her fate, specifically whether she was suffering from a mental illness at the time she slashed Janyla’s throat.
Castro’s attorneys argue she has suffered from mental illness for years, battling depression and paranoia that became increasingly erratic after the birth of her daughter.
Allen County prosecutors contend Castro tried to kill the baby because she and the baby’s father had ended their relationship the day before.
On April 4, police were called to the 3700 block of Parkhill Avenue on a report of a dog biting a child, a report later found to be an erroneous observation by a passer-by. When police arrived, they found 11-month-old Janyla bleeding from severe cuts on her throat and being held in her grandmother’s arms. Janyla has since made a full recovery and is in the custody of her biological father, according to testimony.
Testimony began Wednesday with a 90-minute video presentation documenting Castro’s interviews with Fort Wayne Police Detective Taya Strausborger.
Wrapped in a blanket and wearing a hospital gown, her wrists heavily bandaged from her attempt to kill herself that night, Castro told Strausborger she believed her sisters and her mother were having affairs with the baby’s father and said she had been hearing voices.
“It really spaced me out,” she said during the interview. “They were going to kill me and take my daughter.”
She told the investigator if she was going to be killed she wanted her baby to be where she was going to be, according to the video.
As she watched the video, Castro often wept during the hearing, crying harder when she saw herself crying on the video.
Castro’s mother testified, along with other family members, about Castro’s struggle with depression since she was a child, particularly since she gave birth to Janyla.
“She didn’t think straight,” said Castro’s mother, Grimilda Figueroa. “She would think things about people that wasn’t true, paranoid.”
Figueroa said when she picked up Castro at her apartment the night before the attack, she seemed distant emotionally.
“She was so withdrawn,” Figueroa said. “That was not my daughter that was there. Her eyes didn’t seem the same. … I was scared. She was not there.”
Deputy Prosecutor Patricia Pikel questioned Figueroa about the discrepancies in what she said on the witness stand and what she had initially told police, particularly whether she forcefully took the baby from Castro after the attack and whether she saw blood on the child.
“It’s hard to imagine someone you love would do something like that to your granddaughter,” Pikel said to Figueroa.
“Of course,” Figueroa replied.
Pikel said she was sure the family was looking for some kind of reason, an explanation for why Castro did what she did.
“There’s no way my daughter do that,” Figueroa said.
She also questioned Figueroa about why the family had not had Castro committed to a psychiatric facility if she was a danger to herself and others.
Figueroa said they worried Castro would possibly harm herself, and, under further questioning by defense attorneys, said she and Castro had gone to Parkview Behavioral Health earlier last year.
Before he makes his decision, Surbeck will hear testimony from three court-appointed experts about Castro’s mental status at the time of the attack. That testimony is scheduled for this morning.