Nanny Finally Cleared in Shaken Baby Case
By: Mark Hedlund, Reporter
AUBURN, CA - After more than two years, smiles finally crept across the faces of Veronica Martinze Salcedo's family Monday morning.
"It's a sunny day. Just really bright. We have a new beginning," said Alicia Martinez, Salcedo's sister-in-law. "We had a feeling this was the end of it. And it is."
The Roseville nanny is now cleared from murder and child abuse charges, after Placer County prosecutors decided not to re-try the case. Two earlier trials ended in hung juries.
Veronica Martinez Salcedo wept and hugged her attorney in an Auburn court Monday morning when prosecutors told the judge they will not try the case. The vote on June 26 in the latest trial was a 9-3 split in favor of acquittal.
"She's not guilty," said Greg Avella outside the Auburn jail court. He was one of the two holdout jurors who voted for acquittal in the first trial that ended in a split vote of 10-2 in favor of guilt.
"I think it would be a waste of taxpayer money (to re-try the case) and I don't think they would have a better outcome than they did," Avella said.
Salcedo was accused of shaking to death 16-month-old Hannah Rose Juceam who was in her care on May 11, 2006. The child was taken to the hospital after Salcedo reported her unresponsive, and died a few days later when the Juceam family agreed to take the toddler off life support. Doctors reportedly told the family there was no hope the child would recover.
Shortly afterward, Salcedo was arrested and charged. She admitted shaking Juceam, but said she only shook her lightly to try and wake up the child. Salcedo has remained in custody since her initial arrest, just shy of two years, three months behind bars.
"Her children, ya know they went from fairly small to young teens. But they're very dignified people. The family is a wonderful, wonderful family," said defense attorney Mary Beth Acton. "I feel very, very bad that she spent so much time in custody, but she's done well."
Acton brought in medical experts to testify the child had a pre-existing blood clot, and that the child death may have been from a stroke. Two jurors who spoke exclusively to News10 after the second trial said they believed there would always be too much reasonable doubt for any jury to reach a conviction. Outside court Monday, Avella, one of two holdout jurors from the first trial, agreed.
"What they presented just pointed to something natural that happened," he said.
Scott Juceam, the child's father, said he's disappointed about the decision not to re-try the case and insisted he hasn't changed his opinion that Salcedo killed his daughter. He said his family has already filed a civil suit against Salcedo alleging wrongful death, even though he knows he might never be able to collect any judgment against her.
"It's not about money," said Juceam. "We need to do this for Hannah. We're disappointed because justice was not served served, ultimately. "
Juceam also continued to reject defense claims of a medical condition causing his daughter's death.
"Nothing was wrong with Hannah at all. Hannah didn't have blood clots," he said. "You just put enough crap on the wall and something will confuse a juror. And that's what took place here."
Acton acknowledged the pain the incident caused for both families, but blamed a misdiagnosis by doctors who treated the toddler.
"My father is a doctor and my father is outraged at the way the medical profession handled this case. I'm just hoping the next time they have a child such as Hannah in the hospital that they take the steps necessary to diagnose her properly. Don't jump to conclusions," said Acton.
In the middle of it all, Acton had also filed for a restraining order against Scott and Lorena Juceam based on allegations they threatened her. That restraining order was dropped after agreement by both parties.
"I hope that the Juceam family can move on from this. I really do," said Acton.
Despite the charges being dropped, Salcedo will not walk out of jail a completely free woman. As an undocumented immigrant, she remains on an immigration hold and will most likely be deported back to her home in Mexico. Still, her family said that's not a bad thing.
"She needs to go back and forget about the United States. I know a lot of people do love it here but it was probably not meant for her to be here," said Martinez. "She'll be happy in Mexico with her children."
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