Father pleads no contest to 4-year-old daughter’s drowning in baptismal pool

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Authorities said a man in Sonoma County has appealed no contest to intended murder charges in the drowning of his daughter, 4, in a Catholic Church baptismal pool in 2016.

47-year-old Gerardo Mendoza has been under the influence of methamphetamine he has been smoking for three days.

Believing that his two younger kids were “being attacked by the devil”, Mendoza brought them to St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Healdsburg city in California last Nov. 20, 2016, according to authorities.

A report from the Press Democrat citing court documents said the father sought for a priest and after he found none, he directed his child Maria and another son, aged 9, into an at least 30-centimeters deep baptismal pool.

Authorities said Mendoza, naked, brought his clothed but soaked daughter into a police station nearby. He was standing at the back parking lot, saying Spanish words which mean “help” and “police.” His son, meanwhile, was standing alongside him, only wearing shorts.

The 4-year-old was brought to the hospital but was declared dead.

The man, who is now likely to get a 25-year jail term if proven guilty, pleaded no contest, or an admission of guilt but was taken as such at sentencing.

Before the incident, Mendoza who worked as a farmworker and a day laborer had transferred to Healdsburg for work. He was with his family when he moved out from Sacramento, KPIX5 reported.

He is now facing 11-year imprisonment, given the plea agreement. His sentencing schedule will be on Oct. 15.