A Los Angeles mother appeared in court on Wednesday for her arraignment in the murders of her three young children at the family’s home last month.
Sandra Chico, 28, was arrested on June 28 in connection with the deaths of her daughter and two sons, identified as Mia Camila Rodriguez, 4, and her brothers Mason Mateo Rodriguez, 3, and Milan Mateas Rodriguez, who was one month old.
Chico, wearing an anti-suicide smock, appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, with Judge Miguel Espinoza presiding over the proceedings.
Chico, who appeared dazed and remained silent, did not enter pleas to three counts each of murder and assault on a child causing death. Her arraignment was continued until October.
East LA mother Sandra Chico, 28, is pictured in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday during her arraignment
Chico appeared dazed and wore an anti-suicide smock during the hearing
Chico is accused of murdering (L to R) daughter Mia Rodriguez, 4, and sons Mason Rodriguez, 3, and Milan Rodriguez, who was one month old
Judge Miguel Espinoza continued Chico’s arraignment until October
Detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office have not said how Chico’s children died, but family members told local news outlets their mother smothered them and then tried to commit suicide.
The children were found in a bedroom in their home in the 600 block of South Ferris Avenue at around 12.45pm on June 28 after a family member called for help, according to Lt. Chuck Calderaro. They were not breathing, and efforts to revive them were not successful.
Neighbors placed flowers in front of the home to remember the children. Arturo Cerezo, an uncle, arrived as Chico was being detained.
‘She would do anything for those kids,’ he told KNBC. ‘That’s what’s so hard to understand. What happened?’
Multiple family members said that Chico had been battling mental health issues.
Elizabeth Chico, Sandra’s younger sister, told Los Angeles Times that the mom-of-three had exhibited symptoms of post-partum depression after giving birth to baby Milan a month ago.
Chico, pictured left in court on Wednesday, and right with daughter Mia, did not enter pleas
Neighbors pay tribute at the makeshift memorial honoring Chico’s slain children on June 29
Elizabeth, however, stressed that despite struggling with stress and anxiety, Sandra adored her children and never expressed any intention of harming them.
‘They were her everything,’ she said. ‘Those kids were her world.’
The children’s paternal grandmother, Rosalba Flores Castillo, said in Spanish Chico was unwell and never left the house.
‘I won’t criticize her,’ she said. ‘I wish her well. She is also a victim of her illness, which is depression.’
Multiple relatives asked the public to reserve judgement on Chico’s actions.
‘I’m getting messages from a lot of people saying that they’re judging my sister-in-law. They’re telling her that she was a bad mother,’ Cerezo, the children’s uncle, told ABC7. ‘But the only thing I ask is don’t judge. I know it’s hard, but don’t judge.’
Authorities have said there was nothing to suggest that there were any problems in the family.
A relative called 911 for help after finding the children unresponsive inside this residence in the 600 block of Ferris Avenue on June 28
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies are pictured on the scene of the children’s homicides
Neighbors embrace outside Chico’s home in East Los Angeles after her arrest
‘There was no forewarning of any kind,’ Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. ‘No repeated calls for service … no allegations of child abuse. This was out-of-the-blue tragedies.’
Neighbor Victor Ohm told FOX 11 he previously saw the kids playing in the yard whenever he left to get groceries.
‘It’s heartbreaking,’ Ohm told the TV station. ‘They were happy kids.’
Chico’s family have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for the children’s funeral services.