Cisneros pleads not guilty in murder case

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Luz Cisneros

— Luz Cisneros, the Steamboat Springs woman accused of killing her 1-year-old daughter, entered a plea of not guilty Thursday in Routt County District Court. Her trial is scheduled to begin in September.

Cisneros is charged with first-degree murder for the Sept. 6, 2007, death of her daughter, Brianna Simon, at their Walton Pond apartment. Cisneros, a legal resident alien of Mexico, could face life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.

Judge Michael O'Hara set her trial for Sept. 8 to 16. Cisneros' public defender, Sheryl Uhlmann, announced her intention to request a change of venue because of the amount of pretrial publicity. Brianna Simon's death is the first suspected homicide in Steamboat Springs since 2000.

In court Thursday, O'Hara also ordered the creation of a separate mental health case for Cisneros, to allow her to receive additional mental health evaluations at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo. Cisneros had two stays at the Institute after her arrest, but was returned to Routt County Jail because, according to state statute, mental health commitments cannot be brought against someone with pending criminal charges without a special order from the court.

Cisneros has been in custody at Routt County Jail continuously since Dec. 20. She has been under 24-hour suicide watch, receiving constant supervision, Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall said in court Thursday.

In the mental health case, O'Hara entered a finding that a mental health evaluation would be appropriate, despite her pending criminal charges, if Cisneros is found to pose a danger to herself or others. Cisneros was expected to receive a new evaluation by Steamboat Mental Health officials Thursday night or today. She will "possibly and likely" return to the Colorado Mental Health Institute in the next few days, O'Hara said.

Cisneros has remained in custody at the county jail or in Pueblo since her Sept. 6 arrest. At a Dec. 5 court hearing, county court Judge James Garrecht denied setting bail in her case.

Cisneros also has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of violating a protection order since her incarceration began. The charges stem from her alleged attempts at contacting her longtime boyfriend and Brianna's father, Isaias Simon. That case will be heard alongside the murder case.

Cisneros was arrested the same day as the alleged murder. According to sworn police affidavits, Simon called 911 the morning of Sept. 6 to report that Cisneros was holding a knife to their daughter's neck and stomach. Cisneros told Simon she broke his cell phone and hid her phone, prompting him to leave their apartment to go to a neighbor's home to call for help, according to the affidavits.

Simon told police the door to their apartment was locked when he returned. Officers who responded to the 911 call forced their way inside, and, according to the affidavits, saw Cisneros come down the stairs holding her injured daughter. One of the officers said he saw a laceration on the neck of Cisneros and her daughter.

Brianna was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. A preliminary autopsy report indicated the 1-year-old died from a "total transection of the left jugular vein" due to an "incised wound to the neck."

Cisneros was taken to the hospital for treatment of her injuries, and booked into Routt County Jail later than night on charges of first-degree murder.

During a pretrial hearing in December, prosecutor Kerry St. James argued that Cisneros had the "long-standing intent and deliberation" to kill her child. Cisneros used Brianna as a "pawn" in arguments with the baby's father, St. James said.

Cisneros' public defenders argued that the defendant's state of mind at the time of Brianna's death precluded her from committing first-degree murder, which requires Cisneros to have acted with intent and after deliberation.

"There are significant questions about Ms. Cisneros' mental state," Uhlmann said during the December hearing. "The overwhelming evidence is that this is a woman who, under normal circumstances, loved and took tremendous care of her child."

Cisneros is due to appear in court at 8:30 a.m. July 17 for a 1 1/2-day motions hearing. A pretrial conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. July 25.

The murder trial will begin at 8:15 a.m. Sept. 8.

Comments

nmypinon 6 years, 9 months ago

Why not give her more time to make everyone think that she is insane & get away with MURDER with just a slap on the wrist.Lets not forget that she is violating protection orders while she is in jail. Wonder what else she is capable of doing.(lets hope we don't have to find out.)

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 9 months ago

NOT GUILTY????

you've got to be kidding! insane maybe.....but......... I agree with nmypinon - too much time for them to justify what she did and find a way to keep her out of prison. Her child didn't get a chance to live so why should she?

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 9 months ago

There is no excuse for taking your child's life. Every child is a precious gift. So what if the father had another relationship.. That is not justification for killing your child. There may be more to the story, however bottom line is that a little girl will never have the chance to grow up!

Maybe you think my thoughts are simplistic. I do think there must be something amiss with the mother to do such a vile act. Desperation is one thing, but you still have to own up to your actions. If not in a court of law then one day at the purlly gates.

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Lark 6 years, 9 months ago

Sick or not, this woman should never again see the light of day, unless from securely within her cell. I would not qualify for jury duty in this case, that's for sure.

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MtnWarlock 6 years, 9 months ago

I have friends and family buried near the little girl of this mother. I find this plea unbelievable but, not surprising! If a temporary insanity defense is used in this case, I hope that the judge, jury, prosecutor and anyone else involved in this case, realize that the little girl received no justice! I can see a change of venue because, I think a fair trial in Steamboat can't be obtained. Our community pulled together (as usual), to give this little girl a decent funeral. I doubt there is a lot of empathy for the mother, regardless. My old heart still bleeds for this child! I would find it difficult to serve on a jury for this mother and be forthright in my decisions.

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nibbler 6 years, 9 months ago

This comment might be controversial, but maybe we should all read the news article about police affadavits in the Steamboatpilot on September 28 2007 concerning Luz. There is no excuse for taking any child's life. It is absolutely wrong and it still hurts to read about this incident. I also see from reading all the articles about Luz that her world was destroyed when her boyfriend and father of their daughter declared his love for another woman. All her hopes and aspirations from three years of life together as a family gone because he loved someone else now. I wonder if it was easy for Isaias her boyfriend to throw away their love that produced a beautiful daughter. It seems obvious she was trying to rescue the situation by getting him to move to another state and thus putting distance between him and a female interloper. Was Isaias honest with his new girlfriend? Did he tell her he had a current girlfriend and a daughter by her? If she knew did she think it was right to abandon Luz to raise a daughter alone. I will emphatically state that I don't believe any of this in any shape or form justifies the death of Brianna, but I wonder what it must have felt like to feel Isaias throw away their love and relationship for another. I feel there is alot we don't know about what happened in this family and the above commentators judgements appear to be too simple. Luz appears to have valued their relationship and I get this from the police affidavit sharing her statement of wanting the family to all move away to another state. This appears to be a method to distance the family from the new girlfriend. I wonder if Isaias loved his family. Loving another girlfriend is dead wrong. I think many things went wrong in this situation and I don't think all the wrongs lie at Luz's feet. Yes Luz is responsible directly for her daughter's death, but how much responsibility does Isaias have?

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nmypinon 6 years, 9 months ago

I do not think it would have been healthy for anyone in that family to stay together because a child was involved. If he had moved on once he probably would have done it again. I don't think it would matter where they lived,he obviously was not happy in the relationship.And whose to say that she was being "abandoned" & LUZ would have to raise her alone.There are many households where the parents have shared custody.But now the world will never know because she decided to end her own childs life.And no we will probably never hear the real story- if he was walking out on them for good or not.

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foodchain 6 years, 9 months ago

During a pretrial hearing in December, prosecutor Kerry St. James argued that Cisneros had the "long-standing intent and deliberation" to kill her child.

Why wasn't child protective services involved in this case? If they had been, the baby could have been removed from the home prior to being killed.

Did Luz express her long standing intent to any third person? Who knew about the danger to the child in this household? Did anyone notify the Department of Human Services?

If the Department of Human Services child protection unit knew anything about this family, WHY was no action taken to remove the child?

It is hard to believe that DHS had heard nothing about this family until after the child was dead.

Where were all of the child protection workers during the time frame of that "long standing intent"?

If long standing intent had been expressed to any third party, that third party has culpability for this child's death.

Again, I cant' believe that the Routt County Department of Human Services knew nothing of this situation. If they knew and did not take action to remove the child, then the DHS needs to be held accountable.

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nibbler 6 years, 9 months ago

"So what if the father had another relationship..."

This is what I'm talking about. Is the family some cheap thing that we can simply throw it away like a cheap plastic toy when we grow tired of it?

I clearly said I don't believe this justifies the child's death, but I am interested in the root cause. Can we say this series of events would have never happened if they had sought counciling for there problems amoungst friends, family maybe professionals or such? Sometimes people feel isolated and ashamed to go for family help because the world prides itself on putting on a good outward show and stacking the closet full of skeletons. The question is when will the closet burst and what will be the results?

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 9 months ago

  1. An innocent child is no longer alive.
  2. A mother is in custody/jail for harming her child
  3. A family is broken up. Father no longer has his child.

There are always some woulda, shoulda, type comments. Hindsight is 20/20, etc.... Would family counselling had helped? Would having Child Services get involved had helped?

We will never know the answer. We weren't there. We didn't live in their shoes. It seems like it is an awfully hard outcome to such a tragedy.

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