A 34-year-old Seal Beach woman who killed her nearly 2-year-old daughter was sentenced today to 25 years to life in prison.
Linda Wilborn was convicted Oct. 16 of second-degree murder, child assault causing death and two counts of child abuse in connection with the Dec. 17, 2009, death of her daughter, Millicent.
Wilborn's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael Becker, asked Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard Toohey to sentence his client to 15 years to life in prison.
To do that, Toohey would have had to dismiss the child assault causing death conviction, which carried the 25-year sentence.
"Mrs. Wilborn definitely has some mental disabilities,'' Becker said.
"They didn't rise to the level of a defense, but they are mitigating factors... This, to me, is the toughest sentencing I've ever had to attend.''
Wilborn was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder when she was a child and had trouble managing time, according to Becker. She apparently was overwhelmed caring for Millicent, her twin brother, Garrick, and siblings, then-3-year-old Rachael and then-infant Nathaniel, Becker said.
Her husband, Derrick Wilborn, who was a military recruiter, was too wrapped up in his work to pick up the slack at home, Becker said.
Derrick Wilborn was convicted of ``negligent homicide'' in a military tribunal at Fort Irwin in May, according to Seal Beach Cpl. Detective Dave Barr.
The charge in the court martial is more akin to ``failure to protect'' his daughter, because Derrick Wilborn had no direct hand in the girl's death, according to Barr, who said the father was sentenced to 90 days in a military jail and a reduction in rank.
Linda Wilborn's ``biggest regret,'' is that she has ``lost all of her children,'' Becker said.
``I don't feel Mrs. Wilborn is one of those people who deserves to spend the rest of her life in prison,'' Becker said. ``I'm asking the court to show some mercy.''
``I concur with Mr. Becker's comments about the tragedy of these events and the difficult of sentencing in this matter,'' Toohey said. ``It was clear back in 2008 that Mrs. Wilborn was overwhelmed.''
With the father unwilling to change his work schedule, ``It was really a disaster waiting to happen,'' Toohey said.
The judge also noted that probation officials said in the pre-sentence report that the defendant's mother had been convicted of murder, likely adding to her daughter's mental health issues.
Nevertheless, the judge handed down the maximum punishment.
Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons argued during the trial that Wilborn grabbed her daughter, Millicent, squeezed her and slammed her against a hard surface, causing a tear in her heart that led to her death.
At issue in the trial was the cause of death -- whether it was the result of rough CPR, as Becker argued, or whether the girl was a victim of child abuse.
Wilborn dialed 911 just before 4 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2009, telling a dispatcher that Millicent was not breathing.
Investigators found a spot of her blood on the carpet and an emergency services coordinator noticed bruising on the child, Simmons said.
A social worker detected bruising on the girl's twin brother, Garrick, but no injuries to their siblings, Simmons said.
Physicians at Children's Hospital of Orange County determined that Garrick was underweight and withdrawn and had a hairline fracture to his skull, according to Simmons, who said the boy was also diagnosed as ``developmentally delayed because of emotional neglect.''
Dr. Anthony Juguilon, the county's chief pathologist, determined Millicent had a ``very large'' bruise to the left side of her forehead, a cut to the lower lip, a cut on the chin, and bruises all over her head and on both sides of her torso and left shoulder, Simmons said.
She also suffered broken ribs, some broken on the day of her death, and others before that, Simmons said. Some of the fractures were four to six weeks old, he said.
- City News Service