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Cartagena trial begins in Buffalo

BiancaE.Cartagena.jpg

Opening arguments were heard Monday morning in the non-jury trial of a mother accused in the suffocation death of her 8-year-old daughter in 2010.  Candace Cartagena was indicted last year in the death of her daughter Bianca.  WBFO'S Chris Caya followed the proceedings in the Erie County Court house in downtown Buffalo.

In her opening statement Assistant District Attorney Kristen St. Mary said Cartagena intentionally asphyxiated her 8-year-old daughter Bianca Cartagena in November 2010. The girl's body was found covered by sheets in her mother's bed. Police discovered Cartagena hiding in a shed behind the house.

St. Mary says the only thing Cartagena told her family about what happened to Bianca is that she has no memory. But the prosecutor said Cartagena gave her friends other stories.

"She tells her former boyfriend...that Bianca was at the house. That she does remember her there. And that she put Bianca to bed and at that time she tried to kill herself because she was so distraught over Ruben (her ex-husband.) She tells Avery's brother - the closest thing that we have to a confession - 'I didn't mean to hurt Bianca.'"

Defense Attorney Joseph Terranova said the people's case "smells." Afterwards, Terranova told reporters there's no evidence of a struggle; the bed was just messy.  
 

"When we talk about a person in a life and death struggle we're talking about defensive wounds we're talking about my client's skin cells say under Bianca's fingernails. Negative. So that's all nonsense. That's a red herring."  
   
Terranova says evidence will show Bianca had an enlarged heart and died of natural causes. Cartagena is charged with Murder in the second degree.

The nonjury trial is expected to continue through Friday before taking a two-week break.