Mom on trial after fetus found in fridge

May 2, 2009 7:16:29 AM PDT
Gloria Ramirez was four months pregnant when she delivered a stillborn baby inside a filthy, rat-infested home and placed the fetus in a baby wipe box in the refrigerator. Authorities came to the home that same day in July 2007 after she or her husband Anthony Moya, 42, called a funeral home to ask about a casket for the fetus.

Seven children lived in the squalid home with the couple. Investigators found dirty diapers stacked nearly 4 feet high in closets throughout the house, which was infested by rats, roaches and lice, documents show.

When jury selection in her trial begins Monday on 11 charges of child endangerment and injury to a child, Ramirez, 28, is a month shy of delivering another child -- her 10th.

Ted Hogan, Ramirez's attorney, and prosecutor Jennifer Bassett, each declined to comment.

A phone number for Ramirez has been disconnected.

Moya, father to six of the seven children removed from the home, faces the same 11 charges. His trial was expected to start later this month.

Ramirez initially was indicted on seven child endangerment charges. In early April, a grand jury issued a new indictment adding the four injury to a child charges.

The recent charges involve the couple's then-youngest children, Christina and Grace Moya -- who were ages 1 and 2 at the time they were removed. The indictment alleges that Ramirez "intentionally and knowingly" withheld food and fluids from Christina and Grace Moya. It also alleges Ramirez restricted the girls' mobility.

Five of the seven removed from the home the day of the miscarriage are in the state's permanent custody; the oldest child is with her biological father and a family is in the process of adopting the youngest child.

The couple's twins were born in May 2008, less than a year after the seven youngsters were removed.

On July 7, 2007, decaying food lay around the home, trash bins overflowed, and mattresses where most of the children presumably slept were bare and dirty, CPS spokesman Greg Cunningham has said. Agency investigators suspected the children were malnourished.

Some of the children told CPS investigators they ate only a hot dog out of the freezer for breakfast that morning, having been forbidden to open the refrigerator, documents show.

The oldest child, Esperanza Ramirez, 9 at the time of her removal, often was left to care for the other six when Moya and Ramirez went out, court records state. She helped her mother delivered the stillborn in the bathtub.

Police found the kitchen floor covered in dirty clothes, soiled diapers and trash. Refrigerators in the living room and kitchen contained moldy food and roaches. Rat feces was visible throughout the house, police said.

Some of the children had bug bites and rashes, according to Child Protective Services.

Christina and Grace were hospitalized for suspected dehydration, and all seven had to be treated for head lice, documents show.

In 1999, CPS temporarily removed the two oldest children from the couple's home due to neglect.

The agency is not part of the trial, though case workers may testify, Cunningham said this week.

A conviction and prison or jail sentence would "not automatically" terminate her parental rights; a civil proceeding would be needed, he said.

Her incarceration could be a factor in a judge's decision, Cunningham said. It is unknown what steps the agency will take once Ramirez gives birth to her 10th child.

If convicted Ramirez faces up to two years on each endangerment charge, a state jail felony, and up to 10 years on each charge of injury to a child, a third degree felony.

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