A 34-year-old Seal Beach woman was convicted today of second-degree murder and other felonies in the death of her nearly 2-year-old daughter.
Jurors took about two hours to find Linda Wilborn guilty of second-degree murder, child assault causing death and two counts of child abuse. She faces at least 25 years to life in prison at sentencing, scheduled for Dec. 7.
Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons said he was "extremly happy with the verdict."
"I think the jury listened to all the evidence, went back and deliberated on it, considered everything and rendered a just verdict."
Simmons said he considered it just because the jury held Wilborn "accountable for her actions."
"I think the evidence was there to prove that she, you know, was beating her children."
The defense could not be reach for comment.
During the case Simmons argued 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 Deputy Public Defender Michael 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.
The city's emergency services coordinator, who was one of the first on the scene, gave the child a “rescue breath,” which showed her airway was not obstructed by a toy or some other object, but she had no pulse and attempts to revive her failed, Simmons said.
Investigators found a spot of her blood on the carpet and the 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, then-3-year-old Rachael and then-infant Nathaniel, 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Physicians at Children's Hospital of Orange County determined that Garrick was underweight and withdrawn and had a hairline fracture to his skull, according to Simmons, who said the boy was also diagnosed as “developmentally delayed because of emotional neglect.”
The prosecutor acknowledged that Dr. Duc Duong performed a faulty autopsy on Millicent, during which he accidentally cut the pericardial sac and failed to notice a laceration to the heart.
Dr. Anthony Juguilon, the county's chief pathologist, reviewed Duong's autopsy and 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.
During his opening statement, Becker said investigators “have no idea what killed Millicent Wilborn.” Duong performed a “terrible'' autopsy, and “it took two years for him to admit he botched it,” Becker said.
His client was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder when she was a child and had trouble managing time, Becker said.
She first tried medication, which helped, but it caused unpleasant side effects such as stomach aches and hair loss, so she turned to meditation and relaxation techniques instead, the defense attorney said.
Her husband also helped with her obsessive-compulsive disorder, according to Becker, who said the defendant had trouble caring for her children.
Her husband helped with the children's care, but he started to grow “detached” from the family as he spent hours after work playing golf, Becker said.
Wilborn's husband, who was a military recruiter when he met his wife, 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.
Patch Reporter John Crandall contributed to this story.