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Child with relatives as Chowchilla mother faces manslaughter charge

The daughter of a Chowchilla corrections officer who was charged in the death of her son, has been removed from the mother’s custody while her case is unfolding.

According to Madera County District Attorney David A. Linn, the 3-year-old daughter of Erica Bautista, the mother, is currently in the custody of her father and paternal grandmother.

“And I’ve met with him. Understandably, he’s very emotional over what happened to his son,” Linn said. He’d raced directly to the hospital as soon as he’d heard, and when he arrived, they told him that his son had passed.”

Bautista has been scheduled to appear at the Madera County Superior Court on March 2. She faces a charge of felony manslaughter in the death of her 1-year-old son, David Curiel, along with one count of felony child abuse against both her son, and her daughter, and a felony count for willingly and unlawfully keeping a loaded firearm within her premises, and under her custody and control when she knew, or reasonably should have known, that a child was likely to gain access to the firearm. A special allegation that she willful harm and injury to her child, resulting in death, is included in the abuse charge regarding Curiel. The decision to pursue this case was announced by Linn’s office on Thursday.

“We spent a significant amount of time in charging this case and investigating the case with the aid of the Chowchilla Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department,” Linn said. “I consider this a very significant case because of the fact that a very young life was lost as a result of the acts of the defendant.”

Bautista, a 16-year veteran with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, was reportedly at her home in the 200 block of Alameda Avenue on Jan. 11, when she left her gun on a pillow on the bed where her children had been playing. It was during this time that the daughter allegedly grabbed the gun, and shot Curiel in the head. The pistol was not her service weapon, but she was the registered owner.

“When you’re dealing with firearms, you can’t let your guard down for a minute,” Linn stated. “You have to be very, very careful, and particularly if children are in the home.”

The victim was taken by ambulance to Valley Children’s Hospital, but died before arrival.

Linn has also stated his concerns for the sister of the victim, and the psychological trauma that she will potentially face.

“It’s been a big concern, and one of the first thoughts I had, and one of my deputies that was working on the case was that this poor girl is going to think that she killed her brother for the rest of her life,” Linn said. “And that’s making her a victim also.”

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