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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Accused Davis mom had ‘anger problem,’ girl’s father claimed

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From page A1 | September 29, 2013 | 5 Comments

Talamantes AquelinW

Aquelin Crystal Talamantes. Courtesy photo

The Davis woman accused of killing her 5-year-old daughter and driving her to Sacramento in the trunk of her car was embroiled in a custody battle last year with the child’s father, with each parent accusing the other of abusing the girl and her younger brother, according to documents on file in Yolo Superior Court.

Aquelin Crystal Talamantes was granted sole custody of the children — Tatianna Garcia, then 4, and her 3-year-old brother in July 2012, despite the father’s claim that she had an “anger problem” and had shown aggression in front of the youngsters, court papers show.

“She will get violent and damage the property in our children’s presence,” the father, Oracio Garcia of Suisun City, wrote in a seven-page declaration opposing Talamantes’ request for a domestic violence restraining order, which ultimately was granted in February 2012 along with orders that both Garcia and Talamantes take parenting classes. “I can’t sleep just thinking about what kind of environment my kids are in.”

Garcia alleged that Talamantes once attacked his father in his Modesto home and threatened to “beat up” his sister in Solano County, the latter incident documented in a police report attached to the court file.

Talamantes, meanwhile, claimed that Garcia would fail to feed the children or change their diapers while she attended school, and that both kids saw him being physically and verbally abusive toward their mother — once threatening her with a knife, court documents say.

She also presented the court with photographs of injuries to her children she said were inflicted by Garcia, as well as threatening text messages he allegedly sent to her phone. She filed the restraining order request in Woodland, giving the Yolo County Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center’s Walnut Street headquarters as her address.

But it was Talamantes who ended up in police custody last week after officers discovered Tatianna’s body in the trunk of Talamantes’ vehicle outside a Sacramento apartment complex. The investigation later shifted to the family’s home on Glide Drive in South Davis, which investigators have referred to as the “original homicide scene.”

Efforts by The Enterprise to reach Garcia for comment were unsuccessful. Court documents indicate Talamantes won custody of the couple’s children after Garcia phoned Talamantes in violation of the restraining order

Talamantes, 29, is being held without bail at the Yolo County Jail, where she declined an interview request Friday from The Davis Enterprise. She is scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Monday before Yolo Superior Court Commissioner Janene Beronio.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven said Friday his office was still awaiting police reports in the case before determining what charges would be filed.

The homicide investigation — Davis’ second in less than six months — began unfolding at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, when, according to police accounts, Talamantes arrived at a relative’s residence at the Shore Park Apartments on Sacramento’s Pocket Road with her son, her daughter nowhere in sight.

Concerned family members summoned police to the scene, where after making contact with Talamantes they discovered an unresponsive Tatianna in the trunk of the car, authorities said. Both officers and bystanders attempted lifesaving efforts before the girl was taken to an area hospital and pronounced dead.

An autopsy was conducted Friday, but the girl’s cause of death remains undetermined pending test results, Sacramento County coroner’s officials said.

When Tatianna was placed in the trunk and how long she was there remained unclear Friday, and whether she was still alive when authorities found her will be for a medical examiner to decide, said Lt. Paul Doroshov of the Davis Police Department, which has taken the lead role in the investigation.

For officers to undertake lifesaving efforts is “pretty common,” Doroshov said. “If there’s hope, you want to try the best you can.”

The Sacramento discovery was not Talamantes’ first contact with law enforcement that day, however. According to Doroshov, Talamantes flagged down a patrol officer who had conducted a unrelated traffic stop near the Glide Drive home shortly after 9 a.m.

“The officer thought (Talamantes) was acting erratically, so she decided to do a welfare check at the house,” requesting assistance from a second officer, Doroshov said. Both officers spent about 40 minutes in the home, noting that the two children who were inside — presumably Talamantes’ — were “on the couch, playing and laughing.”

Doroshov said the duplex belongs to Talamantes’ sister, who also was in the home at the time and was interviewed by the officers.

“She (the officer) didn’t see any signs of abuse or neglect that would prompt her to go any further with the inquiry,” Doroshov said. He disputed reports that Talamantes told the officer she was unable to care for her children.

Talamantes had been staying at the home for just a few weeks and was attempting to secure an apartment in Sacramento, according to a relative who was parked in the home’s driveway Friday morning. She declined to comment about Thursday’s events but said the family planned to release a statement once they had more information about the investigation.

She also indicated that family members are caring for Talamantes’ son.

The Glide Drive house had been decorated early for Halloween, with a pair of skeletons propped on a chair on the front porch, a stark contrast to the angel-themed welcome sign and wind chimes hanging overhead. A scrap of yellow crime-scene tape still attached to a sprinkler was the only sign of anything amiss.

A crime-scene investigation team from the Sacramento Police Department, which is assisting in the probe, searched the residence well into the night Thursday, drawing the attention of neighbors such as Jenny Greco, who awoke from a nap that afternoon to discover the commotion.

“I saw lots of crime-scene tape and police activity outside,” Greco said, adding that she is new to the neighborhood and had not seen or met the family next door. “Obviously I feel terrible for the little girl. It’s not something I would have expected here in Davis.”

Davis school district officials say Tatianna was not enrolled in a local school. However, the district did send a crisis response team to the nearest school campus, Pioneer Elementary, “as a precaution.”

— Reach Lauren Keene at lkeene@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene

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Discussion | 5 comments

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  • casperSeptember 29, 2013 - 12:20 pm

    poor Tatiana. rest in peace. Why is Davis so quiet about this? No comments here. Also, if a mother flags down police and says she is unable to care for her kids, why wasn't family services brought in to take children away? Something is awfully broken in our public safety system. But they had $$ to send a team to a school that was in no way effected by this murder. brilliant!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • AnaSeptember 29, 2013 - 10:08 pm

    @casper... I don't believe that the mother actually did say that she couldn't care for her children. The police officers have said that she did not say that.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • hsSeptember 30, 2013 - 9:46 am

    I am glad they spent money to help the kids in the Davis school, because the kids will hear about it and be upset. I agree that something is broken, though. Here is my comment to say I also care very much about the little girl and the entire family.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • apSeptember 30, 2013 - 8:40 pm

    I hope there is a follow up article detailing the people in the court system who condemned this child to death by awarding custody to this woman.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FrankMarch 24, 2014 - 12:32 pm

    Excuse my very late reply: Casper, you are correct, she did ask for help that morning. To clear the air, why don't we ask the Davis Police Dept. to release the police report they wrote up that morning? That would certainly clear some of this up. Officer K.W. from the PD was there that morning. I just hope when she gets put on the stand that she does not lie. Tell them to release the police report. Or to take a lie detector test. I bet a day doesn't go by that they do not kick themselves, because they did in fact notice how erratic and irrational the mom was behaving. Is that all they know how to do? Write reports - leave the scene? Geez, isn't there a required course in police training on mental illness, anything? AP - neither parent was/is a fit parent. It was probably a court toss-up. If the dad was a fit parent, don't you think the other sibling would be in his care now?!!! He's not! And hopefully never will be. The dad is also schizophrenic with heavy mental illness. Scary to be around even; late twenties, still living at home being cared for by both his "mommy and daddy". No job, never paid a dime in child support. I can go on and on. Neither parent was fit, bottom line.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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