Patricia Corby, woman accused in autistic son's death, pleads guilty to murder charges

Corby faces sentence of 15 years to life

SAN DIEGO - A woman who drowned her 4-year-old autistic son in a bathtub, then drove his lifeless body to a police substation where she admitted the crime, pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder.

Patricia Corby, 37, sobbed as she admitted killing her son, Daniel, last March 31.

She will be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison on Jan. 28.

On Thursday, there was a delay in the hearing due to a medical emergency by another defendant. Medics had to be called in to respond.

Also, the judge had concerns about moving forward with the plea deal due to Corby's "extreme emotional distress." At times, the court could not hear Corby's responses to the stipulations in the plea agreement.

According to testimony at a preliminary hearing in September, Corby contemplated suicide before holding her son down in several inches of water until he was lifeless in the family's Carmel Valley condominium.

District Attorney's Office Investigator Walter Escobar testified that Corby told him her son -- diagnosed with a high likelihood for autism – had made strides in his battle with the developmental disorder but not enough to satisfy her.

Corby, who cared for her son at home, felt she had no time to do anything, Escobar testified.

"She felt like her whole existence was dedicated to her child," Escobar testified. "She felt like she had no life. She wanted Daniel to be normal."

Escobar testified that Corby told him that after she killed her son, she tried to drown herself but couldn't, realized what she did wrong and drove to the police substation four miles away to turn herself in.

A police officer tried to resuscitate the child, but paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

The victim's father, who was at work at the time of his son's death, testified that he and his wife amassed $70,000 in debt getting their son numerous types of treatment.

He testified that he saw no signs that his wife suffered from any mental disease before she killed their son.

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