The family of a 3-year-old girl allegedly tortured and subsequently killed her while performing an exorcism, newly released court documents show.
Santa Clara County prosecutors alleged that the girl was strangled by her mother, uncle, and grandfather in a small church in San Jose in September 2021, according to KTLA. Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise wrote that the girl’s family members “believed the child was possessed by a demon and were at the church praying for her,” in court documents, the outlet reported.
Her grandfather “was identified as the leader of the Church and claimed he was a certified pastor,” Wise continued, according to the outlet. Her mother, Claudia Elisa Hernandez, 25, was charged in February with felony assault on a child and is currently in jail without bail, KTLA reported.
Hernandez told police that she believed her daughter was possessed because the girl would wake up in the middle of the night and cry or scream, the outlet reported. In order to exorcise the child, Hernandez and her brother, the child’s uncle, and grandfather held her down by the torso, neck, and legs for several hours, and attempted to make her throw up by sticking their fingers down her throat, according to KTLA.
Church officials said the family members performed the exorcism to “liberate her of her evil spirits,” according to Mercury News. (RELATED: REPORT: Mother Believed Her Children Were Demon-Possessed Before Tragic Ending)
The child eventually lost consciousness, suffering “multiple injuries around her eyes, face, neck, and chest,” Wise wrote in the court documents cited by KTLA. She died after 12 hours of torture, the outlet reported. First responders were called more than 90 minutes later and pronounced the child deceased, the outlet continued.
Coroners ruled her death a homicide by suffocation and smothering, KTLA reported. Her mother was denied bail as she was seen as a “high flight risk,” the outlet continued.
Mother Arrested, Placed Under Mental Health Evaluation After Three Children Found Dead https://t.co/tPFSjJg2Ge
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Hernandez also posted a YouTube video in January discussing her daughter’s death. “I could sit here and be negative. But there’s no point in me doing that. I cannot change what is. It is what it is,” she says in this video. She was charged six days after uploading the video onto YouTube. If found guilty, she faces 25 years to life in prison, KTLA noted.