Mom Dressed Daughter as 'Dead Tinkerbell' Weeks Before She's Killed
Shocking abuse allegations from witness testimony in Yara Perez sentencing
The Lower Valley mother convicted of killing her three-year-old daughter dressed the girl up as a "dead Tinkerbell" for Halloween, only weeks before she was murdered, witnesses said in court Monday.
Yara Perez, 30, was convicted of capital murder for the 2007 death of her daughter, Jacquelyn, on Friday.
Perez will serve a mandatory sentence of life in prison for the conviction.
The sentencing phase of Perez's second conviction, injury to a child by omission, began Monday.
El Paso prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for that conviction as well.
Jurors heard testimony ruled to be too prejudicial during the murder trial, Monday. The testimony centered around allegations that Perez had abused Jacquelyn prior being involved in her murder.
A former neighbor said on Halloween night of 2007, Perez had dressed Jacquelyn up as a 'dead Tinkerbell.'
The witness said the girl tripped on a rock and fell, hitting her head.
She said instead of consoling her daughter, Perez instead scolded and berated the three-year-old for tearing her costume.
In another incident, the neighbor said Perez learned her daughter had accidentally urinated in her pants on the porch.
The witness testified that Perez pulled out the garden hose, making Jacquelyn stay on the porch in the urine.
She said Perez then sprayed the porch and the girl with the garden hose.
Another former neighbor of Perez, Graciela Padilla, testified that Perez would openly "hit and kick" Jacquelyn.
Padilla testified that she confronted Perez about the abuse.
Padilla said Perez told her, "It's OK. As long as I don't leave any marks when I hit her."
The neighbor testified that Perez referred to Jacquelyn as "stupid."
The grandmother of Jacquelyn was called by prosecutors, which turned out to be the most tearful testimony of the day.
Eliza Gonzalez, Perez's ex-mother-in-law, said she took care of Jacquelyn every day while Perez and her son worked.
She said the girl would request that her grandmother make her pancakes and eggs every morning for breakfast, as Jacquelyn called them "pa-no-cakes."
Gonzalez said Jacquelyn loved "Dora la Exploradora," and had a collection of the cartoon character's dolls.
"I still have all of her dolls," Gonzalez said. "Nobody can touch those dolls, not even the granddaughters I have now."
As Gonzalez spoke, several jurors joined her in their tears.
"They took away what I loved the most -- what I loved the most," Gonzalez said. "They took my heart out with the death of my daughter."
In the five years since the death of Jacquelyn, life has continued for Yara Perez.
Until her conviction on Friday, Perez had been free on bond.
In 2009, Perez met and later married Arturo Oteras.
Oteras was called as a defense witness on Monday.
He testified that he loved Perez, and that she had told him how Jacquelyn died in her arms.
As photographs of the couple's wedding were displayed by a projector, Perez showed the most emotion she had during the day, as she cried while she watched her husband weep.
"I will stay married to her," Oteras said.
The couple have a 21-month-old baby girl together.
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