Case 358-2004

No. 358/2004, appeal of criminal process 257/2003
Download Judgment: English Spanish
Country: Mexico
Region: Americas
Year: 2004
Court: Supreme Court of Justice of the State of Michoacán [Supremo Tribunal de Justicia del Estado de Michoacán]
Health Topics: Child and adolescent health, Mental health, Poverty, Sexual and reproductive health, Violence
Human Rights: Right to family life, Right to life
Tags: Child mortality, Childbirth, Family planning, Incapacity, Incompetence, Indigenous groups, Infant mortality, Insanity, Low income, Poor, Pregnancy, Psychology, Rape, Sexual assault, Sexual violence, Underprivileged, Viability

O.M. is a Mexican woman who left her newborn son in a garbage can in the municipal headquarters of Santa Clara del Cobre after having given labor in the public restrooms. The woman placed toilet paper on the newborn child’s mouth cavity and nostrils to prevent others from hearing the newborn child cry, cut his umbilical cord with her left thumbnail and placed the baby in the garbage can.  The defendant admits to her acts but claimed that she did not intend to leave or kill the baby and only left him there because she was terrified and feared her father would kick her out of the house.

She was found guilty for the crime of attempted filicide in the lower court. She appealed to this court to be released on the grounds that the judgment lacked legal support and error in assuming culpability in the defendant.

The Court found exculpatory grounds and released the defendant.

The Court found that the judgment had sufficient legal grounds as there was sufficient evidence to prove each element of the crime and there was no doubt that the defendant had the necessary intent for the crime.

The Court assessed the defendant and found she acted under duress or threat of serious harm. The Court assessed her conditioned and noted that a) the gestation of the victim was caused by a violent sexual encounter; b) on top of any socio-economic factors, she was forced to hide her pregnancy due to death threats from the baby’s father and fear against her and her mother and from fear of being expelled from her home; c) the subhuman conditions and the lack of any assistance during when she gave birth; d) she is presumed to be a member of an Indigenous group based on her place of origin; and e) she can’t read or write. From all this, the court found that she acted under duress or threat of serious harm.

“No obstante lo anterior, responsable del delito Tentativa de Filicidio, están acreditados los presupuestos de la causa exculpante a favor de la inculpada, prevista en el artículo 12, fracción X, del código penal del estado, puesto que su comportamiento fue orillado, por una parte, por las condiciones previas al hecho ilícito, resultado del entorno social donde vive; y por otra derivado de las concretas circunstancias en que ocurrieron los hechos, así como las específicas personales de la inculpada por los siguientes motivos:

  1. Con relación a las primeras: a) en principio, la gestación del ofendido y, consecuente embarazo, es producto, conforme a su declaración preparatoria, de una cópula violenta, situación corroborada con el estudio psicológico y socio-económico que le fueron practicados, y b) esta circunstancia, aunado a su entorno socio cultural y económico, condicionó a la inculpada a ocultar su embarazo durante aproximadamente ocho meses, sin que nadie de su familia se percatara de tal situación, generalmente obvio, como consecuencia de las amenazas del progenitor en el sentido que “si decía algo mataba a ella o a su madre; y, por otra, fundamentalmente, por temor a que la corrieran (expulsaran) de su casa;
  2. Por su parte, respecto a las concretas circunstancias espacio-temporales en que ocurrieron los hechos: a) atendiendo a las condiciones infrahumanas para dar a luz a un ser humano, en el lugar en que lo hizo (baños públicos de Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán), sin recibir ninguna atención médica, ni hospitalaria que requiere un parto, hasta llegar al punto de haber cortado el cordón umbilical de la criatura, con la uña del pulgar de la mano izquierda;
  3. Finalmente, con relación a las condiciones específicas personales de la inculpada: a) en virtud de que no obstante que declara no pertenecer a ningún grupo étnico indígena específico, es un hecho público y notorio que, por su lugar de origen y vecindad (Felipe Tzinzun, municipio de Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán), pertenece a la comunidad indígena Purépecha, y b) debido a que no sabe leer ni escribir.

En este contexto, es de concluir como se concluye que, en la especie está acreditada a favor de la inculpada Obdulia Martínez Morales, la causa excluyente del delito, prevista en el artículo 12, fracción x, del código penal del estado y, por tanto, en las particulares condiciones acreditadas en autos, racionalmente, no puede exigirse una conducta diversa.” (p. 5)
“Notwithstanding the foregoing, on facts, the exculpatory grounds in favor of the defendant, set forth in article 12, section X of the state criminal code, are present and have been established since her behavior was compelled, in part, by the conditions prior to the illicit act, resulting from her social background and, in another part, from the specific circumstances in which the events presented themselves, as well as the specific personal circumstances of the defendant, for the following reasons:

  1. Regarding the first: a) initially, the gestation of the victim and pregnancy of the defendant, is a result, as stated in her preliminary statement, of a violent sexual encounter, a situation corroborated by the psychological and socioeconomic analysis performed on the defendant (pp. 66-68 and 70-71), and b) this circumstance, in addition to her socio-cultural and economic background, conditioned the defendant to hide her pregnancy for approximately eight months, without anyone from her family noticing such a generally obvious situation, as a result of the newborn baby’s father’s threats that “if she said anything, he would kill either her or her mother”; and also, fundamentally, her fear of getting herself kicked-out (expelled) of her house;
  1. Meanwhile, regarding specific time-space circumstances in which the facts occurred: a) in consideration of the subhuman conditions to give birth to a human being, in the place where it was done (public restrooms in Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán), without medical or hospital assistance required in these type of situations, up to the point of cutting the umbilical cord of the newborn with the left thumbnail;
  1. Finally, regarding specific personal circumstances of the defendant: a) due to the fact that, notwithstanding that the defendant declares that she does not belong to any specific ethnic-indigenous group, it is an open and well-known fact that, being from her place of origin (Felipe Tzinzun, municipality of Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán) means that she belongs to the indigenous Purépecha community, and b) due to the fact that she does not know how to read or write.

In this context, one must conclude that, in kind, the circumstance that would exonerate the defendant from criminal liability, set forth in article 12 section X of the state criminal code, is established in favor of the defendant Obdulia Martínez Morales, and, therefore, in the particular conditions set forth in procedural records, rationally, one cannot demand a different conduct than the one displayed.” (p. 5)

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