NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A Mamaroneck mother accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter took a plea deal in court Thursday, following months of pleading not guilty and attempts at a psychiatric defense.
The victim’s family quietly wept in the courtroom, unable to contain their emotions, reports CBS2’s Christina Fan.
According to investigators, grandmother Maria Solarzano discovered the violent scene in her Mamaroneck home where the toddler’s body was in bed “surrounded by stuffed toys.”
Arce had reportedly slashed herself and was in a bloody bathtub. The woman had written two notes to her mother; one said Gabriella was “joining the angels.” The other – an apparent suicide note – said Arce was “now with her daughter.”
Arce survived the alleged murder-suicide and then stabbed two police officers called to the scene before being shot by the first responders.
At one point the defense attorney said he thought psychological testing would delay the start of the trial for many months. That’s when Gabriella’s father, Stephen Boyd, let his feelings be known.
“I’ve been waiting five months,” the girl’s father screamed at the time.
Boyd was had been fighting for custody of Gabriella when she died. Just before the killing, he and Mamaroneck police arrived at Arce’s home last April with a court order, but the mother refused to let the child go.
Stephen Boyd spoke very briefly Thursday after the court hearing, saying he was satisfied and that they were still in mourning.
“I’m satisfied with what happened in court today, we just got a long road ahead of us,” he said. “On the one front we’re wrapped up, on the other front we’re just getting started.”
“As I’ve stated before, Cynthia Arce suffered from severe postpartum depression,” said defense attorney Richard Portale. “I urge society to take a very close, deep look at this issue with passion and empathy and concern.”
He says the reason for the plea now is to avoid the huge emotional toll of a trial. Arce pleaded guilty to second-degree murder as well as attempted aggravated assault.
The two officers she injured also present today in court.
“Our hope is now that the healing can begin,” Portale said.