Mental competency trial ordered for accused baby killer

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Court, gavel, trialSAN DIEGO — A court will determine whether a woman accused of beating and strangling her 7-month-old son is mentally competent to stand trial for murder.

Zewoinesh Badasso faces 25 years to life if convicted of murder and assault charges in the September 7 death of her son, David.

At an earlier hearing, Deputy District Attorney Nicole Rooney said two passersby found David in the west alley of the 4500 block of 39th Street in Normal Heights about 5 p.m. on Sept. 7. They called police, and the child was taken to Rady Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Before police arrived, Badasso allegedly appeared in the alley and told the one of the pedestrians that David was her baby and he had fallen out of a third-story apartment window. The defendant then “manhandled” the baby, picking him up by one arm, the passerby testified.

During an autopsy, medical examiners noticed severe ligature marks around the tot’s neck and other injuries to his face and neck, indicating some form of beating, Rooney said.

Defense attorney Amy McDonald said her client moved to the United States from Ethiopia about 12 years ago and had been in San Diego only a short time.

Badasso, 34, was staying with “friends of a friend” and had just moved into their Normal Heights apartment three days prior to David’s death, McDonald said.

While holding David and trying to open an unfamiliar window, Badasso lost hold of her child as he jerked in her arms and he fell out the window, McDonald said at her client’s arraignment.

At the upcoming competency trial, Judge Joan Weber will decide if Badasso understands the charges against her and can assist in her defense. If the defendant is found mentally incompetent, she would be sent to a state mental hospital for treatment.