A Joppatowne woman pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse in connection with the death of her infant daughter, whom the mother deliberately injected with a fatal dose of insulin in January 2013, before trying to take her own life.
Qucelia Yvette Baldeo, 21, was sentenced by Harford County Circuit Court Judge Angela Eaves to consecutive prison terms of 30 years and 20 years, respectively, on the second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse charges, according to court records. Eaves suspended the 20-year sentence.
Upon her release from prison, Baldeo will be on supervised probation for five years. In addition to agreeing to Baldeo's plea to a reduced charge of second-degree murder, the state dropped a first-degree assault charge. Baldeo was originally charged with first-degree murder, first-degree child abuse resulting in death and first-degree assault.
Baldeo, of the 900 block of Scannell Court in Joppatowne, entered her plea Feb. 10. She already had been in custody nearly two years, most of it spent at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup, the maximum security forensic psychiatric hospital where people accused of felonies are sent if there is the potential for a not criminally responsible defense. The time spent at Perkins will be credited to her prison sentence, according to the case disposition online.
"These [pleas] are always a compromise, but when you go over all the information, it's a pretty good outcome," Harford Assistant State's Attorney Michael Mathias, who prosecuted Baldeo's case, said Monday. "She has 30 years to serve, depending on parole, and five years probation and another 20 years hanging over her head if she violates probation."
Mathias said a mental evaluation requested by Baldeo's public defenders concluded she was competent to stand trial.
"She has depression issues, and we took that into consideration in offering second-degree murder," he said.
"It's a tragic situation," Mathias added. "You are talking about a completely defenseless victim. Time will tell how it works out."
Neither District Public Defender Kelly Casper nor Assistant Public Defender Timothy Bahr of Baldeo's defense team could be reached for comment.
Baldeo was 19 when, early on the morning Jan. 29, 2013, the Harford County Sheriff's Office received a call for a child in cardiac arrest at the Scannell Court address, according to Sheriff's Office statements and charging documents.
Baldeo's daughter, Selena Olivia Weber, who was 9 months old, was taken to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air, where she was pronounced dead a short time later. Baldeo was also admitted to the hospital, the Sheriff's Office reporting at the time that she had "attempted to take her own live by slashing her wrists."
Mathias said the medical examiner determined Selena's death was caused by "insulin injections at multiple points." Baldeo had also injected herself with enough insulin to nearly be fatal, he said.
"She took it to the edge; I think she really intended to take herself out, but then she called 911," he said. "It was too late for her daughter, however."
Baldeo lived in an extended family situation, where others in her home were using insulin for medical conditions, Mathias explained.
Mathias said members of Baldeo's family attended the plea and sentencing hearing and an aunt spoke on her behalf. Selena's father, who did not live with Baldeo, and his mother also attended, the prosecutor said, with the grandmother speaking for the victim.
"This was a beautiful, healthy child," Mathias said. "I wish she would have dropped her off on my doorstep. There was no reason that child shouldn't have been able to grow up. We had to do what we do in this case, but I realize everyone was torn about this. We worked out a plea. Am I truly happy? No."