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By Felix Adamo / The Californian
BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy Guadalupe Gomez noticed her niece slumped over in the back seat as they drove around Bakersfield on Sept. 20.
Gomez stopped the car and checked on 2-year-old Karla Isidro. The little girl had died.
But Gomez refused to call 911, instead spending the next seven hours calling relatives and friends, and giving a friend a ride with the dead child in the back seat. She's in the country illegally and didn't want to chance getting arrested.
Those details as well as descriptions of the numerous injuries inflicted upon Karla are contained in redacted police reports in Kern County Superior Court that became available Tuesday. Gomez, 20, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, torture and willful cruelty to a child.
Her next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 3.
Police said in the reports they were called to the 3300 block of Chester Lane on the night of Sept. 20 for a report of a child not breathing. An officer removed Karla from Gomez's maroon Toyota Camry and laid the child on the pavement.
Karla had been dead for some time as rigor mortis was evident in her jaw, police said in the reports.
After her arrest on Sept. 21, Gomez told police she didn't call 911 because of her immigration status and her fear of deportation. She instead called relatives in Los Angeles, who repeatedly told her to take the child to a hospital or to call authorities.
It wasn't until her relatives arrived in Bakersfield from Los Angeles and continued to plead with her that Gomez called police, the reports say.
Gomez said she is Karla's aunt. Karla's mother left the child and a 4-year-old daughter in Gomez's care while she traveled to Mexico. Gomez said she was only supposed to watch the children one week, but their mother decided to stay in Mexico and Gomez had been watching the children the past 2 1/2 months.
The reports say Gomez told police she enjoyed having the two children with her. Further questioning, however, revealed a pattern of abuse.
Gomez told police she sometimes bound the hands and feet of Karla when she was "misbehaving," according to the reports. In one instance the child was bound for five hours.
The binding left Karla's ankles bruised and blistered, and there was also bruising on both forearms. The reports say an autopsy revealed the girl had suffered a skull fracture, and there was bruising on the top of her head, behind her left ear and on a shoulder.
A large raised bump stretched across the back of her head, the reports say. She weighed just 16 pounds and her rib cage and hip bones jutted from her skin.
Gomez said she gave Karla a bath in late August and, after draining the water, left the child in the tub while she checked on dinner. She heard a faint cry while in the kitchen and returned to the bathroom.
She said Karla had fallen and was upside down stuck between the outside of the bath tub and the edge of the bathroom door, the reports say. Her head became swollen and over the next month she vomited frequently, slept often and didn't talk as much as usual.
It became difficult to get the child to pay attention. The reports say Gomez told police that on at least three instances she shook Karla, and her head would "flop" back and forth.
Gomez said she didn't take Karla to a doctor because she's not her legal guardian, plus she was concerned about her immigration status.