Lawyer: Mom sickened baby to gain attention

Defense describes her as a devoted mother
2013-05-23T00:00:00Z 2013-05-23T09:45:47Z Lawyer: Mom sickened baby to gain attentionVeronica M. Cruz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Blanca Reneis Montano contaminated her infant daughter's intravenous lines to make her sick because she wanted attention from the girl's father, the prosecutor in her attempted-murder trial told jurors Wednesday.

Prosecutor Ryan Schmidt said evidence will show Montano, 23, caused her daughter to contract several bacterial diseases. including E. coli, while she was hospitalized for about a month.

"She was fighting off her own mother infecting her repeatedly," he said.

Montano's public defender, Paul Skitzki, told jurors she is a devoted mother who stayed by the girl's side throughout her hospitalization and decorated her hospital room with balloons and stuffed animals. There is no evidence that will prove Montano purposely made her daughter sick, he said.

"Sometimes things happen," Skitzki said. "Sometimes there's no explanation for it."

The girl and her older brother were taken to University of Arizona Medical Center on Feb. 23, 2011, to be treated for the flu, but tests showed they had E. coli, according to court documents.

The children were treated and improved, but the girl continued to develop between six and nine different bacterial diseases, court documents state.

Tests were performed on the baby as well as laparoscopic surgery to look at her stomach and intestines, but doctors were baffled by the girl's repeated illnesses, Schmidt told jurors.

The hospital staff set up a hidden camera in the girl's room to monitor Montano's actions with the child, which ultimately led them to call Child Protective Services, which took custody of the baby.

In one instance, Montano was seen putting the IV tubes into the baby's mouth, Schmidt said. Another time, Montano was filmed coming out of the bathroom with her hand up her sleeve and then walking to the baby's crib, grabbing the IV lines and doing something that caused the alarm on the IV pump to go off, Schmidt said.

She was also seen intentionally covering the camera, Schmidt said.

Skitzki said there is no evidence showing Montano had the equipment or means to contaminate the IV lines.

She was indicted on one count of attempted first-degree murder of a minor and one count of child abuse, death or serious injury.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Scott Rash is presiding over the trial.

Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at vcruz@azstarnet.com or at 573-4224.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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