Glendale mom accused of smothering baby to death

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Amber Cherie Sagrnaga (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Amber Cherie Sagrnaga (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Amber Cherie Sagarnaga (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Amber Cherie Sagarnaga (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

A Glendale mother of three is facing charge of second-degree murder after her fiance told police she smothered their baby girl to death.

Police arrested Amber Cherie Sagarnaga, 23, at her Glendale apartment Friday night.

According to court paperwork, officers who responded to the call described Sagarnaga as “lacking emotion” while her fiance, the baby’s father, “was on the phone with 911 in a panic while doing CPR.”

Officers took over CPR until paramedics arrived and took the 5-month-old baby to the hospital where doctors pronounced her dead. Police noted that the baby was wearing "a soiled diaper which appeared to have been on for more than a day" and that she had what appeared to be a "severe rash."

Officers described the apartment as "extremely dirty and cluttered."

After finding his baby daughter "covered completely in a comforter and unresponsive," the father started CPR and then stopped.

"The father believing child services was going to be called and told [Sagarnaga] to clean the apartment because he didn't want his children taken away," according to court paperwork. "After approximately two minutes the father ran to the neighbor told the neighbor his fiance had smothered their child. The father then used the neighbors phone to call 911."

It's not clear how long Sagarnaga and her fiance have been together, but they have two other children -- a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old. It's also not clear if there were any incidents involving those children.

“During an interview with the father he advised [Sagarnaga] battles depression and self medicates [sic] by using marijuana,” according to the probable cause for arrest statement.

When police interviewed Sagarnaga, she “admitted she has battled depression her whole life and it has gotten worse after she started having children,” according to her court paperwork.

Investigators believe Sagarnaga tucked a heavy comforter around the baby, who was in a Pack 'n Play, and "then pushed down with force on the comforter where [the baby's] face was at for an unknown amount of time."

Sagarnaga said the baby was still crying after that and that she left the child under the comforter.

According to the court paperwork, Sagarnaga "denied wanting to hurt [her baby] but knew putting a heavy blanket on [her] could cause what eventually happened.

She also said she had planned to give the baby up for adoption “but couldn’t.”

According to court paperwork she “admitted she thought about killing herself and the three children while her fiance was not around because she couldn't take it anymore.”

A judge set a secured appearance bond of $500,00 and scheduled a status conference for June 16, followed by a preliminary hearing on June 20. 

If Sagarnaga posts bond, she will not be released until she has been fitted with electronic monitoring equipment.

[PDF: Amber Cherie Sagarnaga's court paperwork]

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