California mom charged with manslaughter for choking baby on her breast

A California mother has been charged with murder for choking her baby daughter with her breast – frustrated the twin refused to latch on to the food, according to police and the woman’s friends.

Celina Juarez, 29, of San Jose, allegedly snapped and held 8-month-old daughter Melani to her skin for 10 minutes when the baby kicked and gasped for air on Nov. 4, police complained.

Juarez then picked up the twin Zari and attempted to choke her as well, the San Jose Police Department claimed in a news release.

When police arrived, the unconscious Melani was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. Juarez was charged with murder almost two weeks later.

Friends and relatives insisted Juarez is a dedicated mom who needs mental health help — not jail time — and is raising money for her legal defense.

“This is a mother who needs help and shouldn’t be vilified,” friend Crystal Conroy wrote on the family’s GoFundMe page. “While these circumstances are tragic, I know there is no malice behind them.”

The mother’s husband, Artemio Juarez, said the incident happened in a moment of weakness – and his wife was the victim of tragic circumstances.

“Those who know her know that this is not in her character. She has dedicated her entire life to children and her life revolves around our children and our family,” he wrote on the donation page.

“There are two sides to every story and we need all the help we can get to give Celina a chance to tell hers! This verdict is not correct, she is a victim here too,” he wrote.

Another friend, identified only as Michael, speculated that the incident could be related to “the desperation and concern of a mother” who was “having difficulty latching babies while breastfeeding.”

“It’s such a fragile time,” he said.

As of Friday, the family had raised $3,500 of their $10,000 goal.

Juarez had reportedly called her mother to ask for help after she tried to suffocate the babies. The older women performed CPR before calling Juarez’s brother, who dialed 911. California mom charged with manslaughter for choking baby on her breast


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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