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Opening remarks begin in shaken baby retrial

By: Penne Usher and Jenna Nielsen, Journal Staff Writers
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Opening statements began Thursday in an Auburn courtroom in the second trial of Veronica Martinez Salcedo, who stands accused of shaking 15-month-old Hannah Rose Juceam to death. The prosecution contends that Hannah died from traumatic brain injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome and the defense that Hannah’s brain was still active when her parents, Scott and Lorena Juceam, decided to take her off life-support. The first trial for Veronica Salcedo, 38, ended Oct. 31 with jurors deadlocked 10 to 2 in favor of guilt. Prosecutor Karin Bjork told the seven women and five men of the jury Thursday that Salcedo shook Hannah so violently May 11, 2006 that it killed her. Hannah, who reportedly had a cold at the time, became fussy when her mother left to run an errand around 2 p.m. Salcedo reportedly fed and prepared a bottle in an attempt to stop Hannah’s crying. “She picked her up and shook her and shook her and shook her – hard,” Bjork told the jurors. “And Hannah stopped crying. Ms. Salcedo quieted Hannah forever.” Bjork said jurors would hear testimony from a doctor at Sutter Memorial Hospital who is an expert on child abuse cases will testify that the injuries were caused by shaken baby syndrome. Defense attorney Mary Beth Acton told jurors that parents Scott and Lorena Juceams’ decision to take Hannah off life-support days after she was admitted to the hospital was ultimately responsible for Hannah’s death and that the 15-month-old’s brain was still active. “After she had brain flow, he mother and father chose to take her oxygen away,” Acton said. “She wasn't brain dead — she was alive. She had blood going to the brain.” Acton told jurors that Salcedo went into the kitchen to feed Hannah and her twin brother Ben and put Hannah on the floor. “Veronica Salcedo heard a thud,” Acton said. “She picked Hannah up and saw her eyes roll back. She thought she was holding her breath.” Acton said Salcedo picked Hannah up and began shaking her, trying to get a response. “Hannah was not an infant,” Acton said. “She was 22-to-24 pounds according to medical records.” Acton said Hannah did not have any bruises or marks on her, which would be consistent with shaken baby syndrome. “It could be that she had a virus, it could have been a stroke,” Acton said. Acton also said doctors gave Hannah drugs to induce sedation and calm her down in order to insert a breathing tube down her throat. “The coma that she was in was induced by the hospital,” Acton said. “She was starting to move, come out of those paralytics. She wasn’t dead.” Roseville Police investigators said Salcedo was baby-sitting for the Juceam family on May 11, 2006. Scott Juceam was at work and Lorena Juceam left her Roseville home to run an errand at an area bank. She received a phone call from Salcedo just 15 minutes after she left her home. Salcedo said there was something wrong with Hannah. Lorena Juceam then called 911 and arrived at home to find paramedics attending to her infant daughter. Hannah was taken off life-support May 13, 2006. Salcedo has pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder. According to reports, Salcedo told law enforcement officers that she shook Hannah to get her to stop crying. The prosecution and defense disagree whether the shaking was violent and if there was enough shaking to cause fatal injuries. Salcedo, who prosecutors alledge is in the country illegally, has two children who are being cared for by family members. Acton said Salcedo entered the U.S. legally after her husband was murdered in Mexico. Salcedo remains in custody in the Placer County Jail on $1 million bail. If found guilty she faces 25-years-to-life in prison. The Journal’s Penne Usher can be reached at penneu@goldcountrymedia.com. The Journal’s Jenna Nielsen can be reached at jennan@goldcountrymedia.com or comment on this story at aub-urnjournal.com.