Woman who killed baby accused of stabbing mom

October 20, 2011

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A woman who killed her baby 25 years ago by throwing her into San Diego Bay has pleaded not guilty to charges that she repeatedly stabbed her 86-year-old mother in the face.

Lorenza Delgadillo Penguelly, 51, was charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and elder abuse, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune (http://bit.ly/pRMyYu ). She could face life in prison if she's convicted.

Penguelly is being held without bail and was ordered to have no contact with her mother, Elvira Delgadillo.

Authorities allege Penguelly stabbed Delgadillo in the face eight times Monday and also cut her arms and hands. Delgadillo was taken to a hospital and was expected to recover.

When Penguelly was 26 years old in 1986, she drowned her 5-month-old daughter by throwing her in the bay, police said. The day before the crime, Penguelly had been seen at the Grape Street Pier trying to give away the infant.

The baby's body was found by a 14-year-old who thought it was a doll, according to news reports at the time. The baby's identity wasn't then known.

Penguelly was arrested a month later in Santa Monica after she attacked her uncle, who kept asking her where her daughter was, police said.

She then admitted that she threw the baby in the bay was returned to San Diego to face a possible life sentence on a murder charge.

Penguelly's attorneys argued that she was suffering from postpartum psychosis, a rare maternal psychiatric disorder that can prompt mothers to kill. She pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, was sentenced to six years in prison and sent to Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino County for psychiatric treatment.

At the sentencing, Superior Court Judge Wayne Peterson said society had failed Penguelly and her baby by not making adequate mental health resources available. He said he was concerned that Penguelly "not be given another opportunity to act out and place another child at risk."

Penguelly is due back in court Nov. 14.