A California mother that said that she was suffering an epileptic seizure when she placed her 1-month-old baby daughter in a microwave and turned the machine on has been convicted of first-degree murder and assault causing the death of a child. A Sacramento jury rejected the legal arguments of 34-year-old Ka Yang, who reportedly altered her story about her child’s death a few times before defending herself with an epilepsy blackout scenario.
The Associated Press reported November 13 that Ka Yang was convicted after prosecutors presented evidence that she placed her 1-month-old baby, Mirabelle Thao-Lo, in a microwave in March 2011 and turned it on for at least 2-and-a-half minutes. Authorities estimated that the child may have been in the microwave for up to five minutes, suffering what was described as extensive thermal injuries.
But an epileptic seizure wasn’t the first story Ka Yang, a mother to three other children, gave police about how her baby ended up in a microwave. She told investigators that she blacked out while working at her computer with the child in her arms. In an affidavit given to Sacramento Police Detective Thomas Shrum, she said she later woke up on the floor with the baby injured next to a space heater.
According to the affidavit, Ka Yang admitted to a history of epileptic seizures but paramedics that first arrived on scene noted that the woman was not disoriented when they arrived. When investigators made note of the inconsistencies in Yang’s story, she admitted to lying to the police and said she believed she might have a split personality.
Police responding to the Sacramento-area apartment found the baby burned the entire length of her small body. However, the baby’s hair was not singed, the pajamas she wore unburnt.
Ka Yang faces a sentence of 26-years-to-life. Prosecutors had originally sought the death penalty in the case, but had dropped the death penalty in February 2012 to seek a life sentence. According to a release from the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office, sentencing is scheduled for December 18.
Although used as a horrific plot device in many police dramas and mystery novels, the gruesome killing method of placing a baby in a microwave is quite rare. According to an article at CityLab.com, even though there have been a small number of abusive injuries involving placing children in microwaves, the number of deaths by microwave stands at three with the Ka Yang case.
The last known case occurred in 2008 when an Ohio woman, China Arnold, who was convicted of murder when said she killed her 28-day-old daughter to keep her boyfriend from finding out the child was not his. The first known killing occurred in Virginia in 1999, the woman’s story much like Yang’s final defense. In that particular case, Elizabeth Otte was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after telling investigators that she suffered from epilepsy and could not remember putting her month-old son in the microwave, turning it on, then going to bed.