Hearing for woman accused of beating, strangling 7-month-old son

SAN DIEGO - A 34-year-old woman accused of beating and strangling her 7-month-old son, who was found by two passersby in a Normal Heights alley, is scheduled to be court Friday for a mental competency hearing.

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

A judge will decide at the end of the Friday’s hearing whether the defendant is able to understand the charges and assist in her own defense. If not, she will be sent to a state mental hospital for treatment until she is deemed fit for trial.

At an earlier hearing, Deputy District Attorney Nicole Rooney said two passersby found David in the west alley of the 4500 39th St. sometime after 5 p.m. Sept. 7. They called police, and the child was rushed 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 passersby 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 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.

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