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Sonoma DA Drops Charges Against Petaluma ‘Tequila Mom’

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Ana Laura Rendon (inset), daughter Joana (Petaluma Police Department/CBS)

Ana Laura Rendon (inset), daughter Joana (Petaluma Police Department/CBS)

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PETALUMA (CBS 5) – The Sonoma County DA has dropped all charges against 24-year old Ana Rendon, the Petaluma mom whose toddler mysteriously wandered off.

According to Assistant District Attorney Diana Gomez, a preliminary hearing brought forth new evidence that led to the dismissal of all the charges.

“There were mitigating circumstances surrounding her not looking for her child,” said Gomez.

At first, Gomez said the case looked like extremely negligent conduct because Rendon drank 5 glasses of tequila and didn’t immediately launch a search for her missing daughter. Gomez said the state had to move quickly to protect the child.

“…after hearing testimony, it was not as egregious as it seems. There were other explanations that were not known to police or the DA why she was not looking for her child.”

Rendon lived in a house with other families, including a woman who often watched her child. Testimony at the preliminary hearing showed it was not unusual for the child to sleep in that person’s room. Sometimes she’d wake up and her daughter was missing. That happened before and the kid would be missing [from Rendon's room] and end up with the caregiver and her child.”

“It’s still a mystery as to how the child left the house,” said Gomez. “It’s still under investigation. The facts remain that the child was found within 20 minutes of the mother putting her down one-and-a-half miles away from home.

The question, said Gomez, was whether Rendon was criminally negligent. Did her actions rise to the level of criminal charges. At first, it appeared so. But after we looked at everything, the fact that she placed the child in bed and it was not unusual for the child to get out of bed and sleep with the caregiver… we determined was not negligent.

“The system works,” said Gomez. “At first, it looked like the child needed protection. But after the preliminary hearing and new evidence from several witnesses, we decided this is not a case where the District Attorney should be proceeding on a case of a criminal nature.

(© MMX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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