Modesto Mother Accused Of Killing Daughter
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 2, 2005
MODESTO, CALIFORNIA--Thirteen-year-old Heather Lea Walker died Saturday afternoon while on a walk with her mother.
The cause of her death: Asphyxiation resulting from her ventilator being turned off.
The suspected killer: Her mother.
Donna Marie Baker, 34, appeared in Stanislaus County Superior Court briefly Wednesday morning on first degree murder charges. She is accused of killing Heather, who was paralyzed from the neck down since birth.
Heather's maternal grandparents, John and Debra Hart, were her legal guardians, but the girl's mother had permission to take her to a local park Saturday. A few hours later, they showed up at an urgent care clinic where staff found Heather had stopped breathing.
A coroner later said she suffocated because the ventilator had been switched off.
Police arrested Baker after statements she made during interviews led them to believe she had deliberately planned to kill her daughter.
"This is something the defendant put some thought into," Deputy District Attorney Nate Baker told the Modesto Bee.
If convicted, Donna Baker could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. She would not face the death penalty, Nate Baker said.
Heather was set to graduate from Orchard Elementary School, where she studied math and reading just like other students. Unable to speak, Heather used a pointer to tap out phrases on a computer keyboard.
"She had a good sense of humor and friends," said Detective Tom Blake. "She was a bright young lady."
"Disabled girl dies at clinic; mother jailed in homicide" (Modesto Bee)
"Mother planned slaying, DA says" (Modesto Bee)