"'Whether (the sexual abuse of Bearden's son) happened or not, it's what
Sandra thought happened,'" Laurel
said Tuesday. 'It could have triggeredpost-traumatic stress, given the history of the abuse Sandra suffered from
_________________________________________________________________As sometimes happens, the Paxil induced in the defendant the [false?] memory that she had been
sexually abused by her father when she was a child.
Metro and State
Defendant gets new lawyer in chained-girl case appeal
By Bonnie Pfister
Express-News Border Bureau
Web Posted : 10/31/2001 12:00 AM
LAREDO The Laredo housewife facing 99 years in jail for chaining and
physically abusing a pre-teen Mexican girl got a new lawyer Monday, setting
the stage for a possible impaired-reasoning plea on appeal.
State District Judge Manuel Flores granted Sandra Bearden's motion,
appointing lawyer Oscar PeÃ±a Sr. to represent the indigent woman.
PeÃ±a will guide Bearden's attempt to revisit her Oct. 18 conviction on seven
felony counts of child injury, abandonment and kidnapping. He did not return
phone calls seeking comment Tuesday.
Police on May 12 rescued the then-12-year-old girl, brought illegally from
Mexico to work as a babysitter and housekeeper for Bearden.
Following a neighbor's 911 call, authorities found the emaciated child bound
hand and foot with steel chains and padlocks in Bearden's walled backyard in
a middle-class east Laredo subdivision. The girl was dehydrated and nearly
starved, her face and body pocked with cuts, scars and Mace residue.
Bearden admitted on the stand that she chained the child but said it was only
to prevent her from running away after the two argued. Bearden alleged they
sparred after she caught the hired girl sexually abusing her 4-year-old son.
Lorraine Laurel, Bearden's public defender at trial, said those allegations
got short shrift at trial.
Laurel said her client informed her only on Oct. 5 that she'd been sexually
and physically abused by her own father, and that she had been taking the
That prescription drug has been cited as the cause of violent behavior in
other criminal cases, and may have been linked to her client's actions,
"Whether (the sexual abuse of Bearden's son) happened or not, it's what
Sandra thought happened," Laurel said Tuesday. "It could have triggered
post-traumatic stress, given the history of the abuse Sandra suffered from
Laurel said she expects PeÃ±a to pursue something akin to the insanity plea
she attempted just days before Bearden's trial. Judge Flores rejected that
plea, saying it came too late.
The victim, identified only as S.A.D. because of her age, remains in Laredo
at an undisclosed private residence with her parents and three younger
brothers, who joined her after her rescue.
Mexican Consul Daniel HernÃ¡ndez Joseph said Tuesday the family likely would
return to their home in rural Veracruz in the next several days or weeks.
S.A.D.'s father testified he allowed his only daughter to come to the United
States with Bearden because of promises that she would be educated and cared
In his tiny village, even jobs for able-bodied adults are scarce, and one of
his sons suffers from a recurring lung ailment, the father said.
That boy contracted pneumonia in Laredo as the trial concluded, which has
further delayed the family's return home, Hernandez said.
A fund for S.A.D. has been set up at Laredo National Bank in the name of
"NiÃ±a Mexicana," or Mexican Girl. The account is No. 2195147.