Celina Juarez and family

A California woman trying to breastfeed her infant daughter allegedly smothered the young girl to death, prompting prosecutors to charge the mother with homicide, KRON-TV reports.

Authorities allege that on November 4, 29-year-old Celina Juarez was having difficulty getting her 8-month-old daughter Melani to latch on while attempting to breastfeed at the family’s San Jose home.

Celina allegedly pressed the girl to her breast for 10 minutes “not allowing her to come up for air,” even as the baby struggled to breathe and kicked, according to court records obtained by the television station.

When the girl stopped breathing, Celina put her on a bed and then picked up the girl’s twin, named Zari, and attempted to smother that child too, the court records state, according to KRON-TV.

After 20 minutes, Celina walked into another room and sought help from her mother, who attempted CPR on the infants before Celina’s brother came home and dialed 911.

First responders immediately attempted CPR on Melani and then rushed her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, according to the San Jose Police Department. Zari was transported to a hospital and survived.

Celina was also hospitalized for an undisclosed reason and was then arrested and charged following her release on November 16.

The woman’s loved ones are raising money to help her defend the homicide charge and say she is a doting mother who needs mental health services.

“This is a mother who needs help, not to be vilified,” a GoFundMe page reads. “Although these circumstances are tragic, I know there was no malice behind them.”

Artemio Juarez, Celina’s husband, wrote on the GoFundMe page that his wife is also a victim in the tragedy.

“Those who know her, know this is not in her character. She has devoted her entire life to children and her life revolves around our children and our family,” Artemio wrote. “There are two sides to every story and we need all the help we can get to give Celina the chance to say hers! This judgment is not right, she is a victim here too.”

A woman named Veronica urged others to approach the incident with compassion.

“During difficult times in my life, she has always provided much-needed compassion. I would hope we can offer the same grace and compassion to Celina during her time of need. Celina has always uplifted and supported her friends throughout their highs and lows. We should continue to love and support her just as she would if any one of us were in need,” Veronica wrote on the GoFundMe page.

The site had raised nearly $4,000 as of Saturday morning.


Join Nancy Grace for her new online video series designed to help you protect what you love most — your children.

[Featured image via GoFundMe]

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