Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Woman who drowned son found not criminally liable

Her husband blames her mental illness

  • Print

EDMONTON -- Florentino Jajoy says he doesn't have to forgive his wife for drowning their seven-year-old son in a bathtub because her mental illness is the only one to blame.

Jajoy told reporters outside Edmonton's courthouse Friday he supports his wife and hopes she gets the help she needs since she won't be going to prison.

"I really feel really sad because everything happened," the Colombian refugee said in broken English.

"I'm going to stay by her side, but my focus right now is my daughter."

On Friday, a judge found Nerlin Sarmiento not criminally responsible for drowning Omar Jajoy. The 32-year-old woman admitted to the killing but pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder, arguing she had a mental disorder at the time.

Two psychiatrists testified Sarmiento was having a major depressive episode as part of her bipolar disorder when she killed the boy at the family's apartment earlier this year. They said she deluded herself into thinking the boy was better off in heaven.

'She didn't appreciate the act was morally wrong. She felt this was a proper thing to do, a righteous decision'

-- Justice Sterling Sanderrman

Justice Sterling Sanderman said although children "don't anticipate betrayal" from their parents, Sarmiento was indeed ill.

"She didn't appreciate the act was morally wrong," he said. "She felt this was a proper thing to do, a righteous decision."

He ordered Sarmiento transferred to a psychiatric hospital and to have a hearing before the Alberta Review Board within 45 days. The board is to regularly review the woman's mental health to determine if she is well enough to be released into the community.

A court order preventing Sarmiento from contacting her 10-year-old daughter remains until the board decides it's no longer needed, Crown prosecutor Kimberley Goddard said.

Court had heard the woman had thoughts of killing both children and once choked her daughter in a bedroom. She stopped when the girl questioned what she was doing.

Goddard didn't oppose the defence's insanity argument but said the medical evidence needed to be tested by a judge. Outside court, she said it was a difficult case for everyone involved.

"The family has been torn apart. There was really nothing that could be done in this case that was going to change that or get that sense of justice. It was just really tragic."

Medical reports entered in evidence show Sarmiento was admitted to hospital several times in the two years before she drowned her son.

As early as July 2011, she expressed "ideas regarding her safety and the safety of her children" to staff at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

She told her husband and mother she was having dark thoughts about hurting her two children. In late 2012, her mother started spending nights at the family's home to help look after the kids.

But on Feb. 12, after Sarmiento's husband and mother left for work, Sarmiento sent her 10-year-old daughter to school and shoved Omar toward the bathroom. She pushed him into the tub and held his head under water for several minutes. When he stopped moving, she called 911.

Sarmiento later told police she had thoughts of stabbing and smothering both children and, while at a downtown mall, fantasized about throwing them over a third-floor railing.

The day before the drowning, she said she had tried to suffocate herself by wrapping a plastic bag over her head. She also tried to hang herself with a rope strung from a bedroom door.

Dr. Curtis Woods wrote in his report for the court that Sarmiento had a history of resisting oral medication and, at one point, was prescribed monthly drug injections. But she didn't get the shot a month before the killing and did not take other drugs a doctor sent home with her.

He testified Sarmiento had delusional thoughts about being worthless and unable to provide new clothes and shoes for her children. She wanted to save her son from a life of poverty and suffering.

"Killing her son was an altruistic measure to spare him from the anticipated suffering and send him to a better place," Woods said.

Although she knew killing her son was legally wrong, she truly believed she was doing what was best for him when she killed him, Woods said.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 14, 2013 A20

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Glenn January won't blame offensive line for first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A nesting goose sits on the roof of GoodLife Fitness at 143 Nature Way near Kenaston as the morning sun comes up Wednesday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 07- Web crop-May 09, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Geese take cover in long grass in the Tuxedo Business Park near Route 90 Wednesday- Day 28– June 27, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should confessions extracted through Mr. Big police stings be admissible in court?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google