SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — A Northern California woman accused of killing her baby in a microwave oven was arraigned Thursday on murder charges that could lead to the death penalty if she is convicted.

Prosecutors charged Ka Yang, 29, with one count of murder with the special circumstance that the killing was intentional and involved torture, which would make her eligible for the death penalty or life in prison without parole, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Authorities found Yang’s 6-week-old daughter, Mirabelle Thao-Lo, dead in the family home in Sacramento on March 17.

Officials say the child suffered “extensive thermal injuries.” The girl was burned from head-to-toe, but authorities could not find an obvious source for the burns when they arrived at the home, according to the affidavit written by Sacramento Police Detective Thomas Shrum.

The infant’s pajamas and hair were not singed. A pacifier, however, was found in the microwave, Shrum said.

Yang initially told investigators she blacked out while working on the computer with Mirabelle in her arms and woke up on the ground with the baby injured next to a space heater. Although she had a history of seizures, paramedics did not find her to be disoriented when they arrived, according to the affidavit.

When detectives pointed out inconsistencies in her story, Yang later acknowledged she lied and said she might have a split personality, the affidavit said.

Police interviewed Yang’s family and co-workers as well as pathologists who have worked on microwave burn cases in the months after the infant’s death. They have not established a possible motive.

“Nothing (Yang) gave us explained what led up to the baby being killed,” police spokesman Norm Leong told the Bee.

Yang was arrested Tuesday after a monthslong investigation into what caused the baby’s severe burn injuries.

She did not enter a plea in court Thursday.

Yang’s court-appointed attorney, Linda Parisi, expressed doubts about her client’s mental health.

“I think there is no question there is clearly some psychological issues that will have to be investigated,” Parisi told reporters outside the courtroom, according to a Sacramento TV station.

The woman’s other three children, all under age 7, were removed from the home the day their sister was found dead. They are now living with relatives.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

Comments (10)
  1. Does California have a microwave oven large enough for her potential execution?

  2. Zack Debarco says:

    I hold her relatives and perhaps CPS accountable. I hold her accountable also and hopefully we’ll discover if she is in fact severly disturbed. 40 years of social work and nothing surprises me. This however is disturbing and only
    a severly disturbed individual, which the family should have been aware of,
    could do something like this. don’t let the family hide behind the cultural
    card on this one! this woman sounds like a lot of CPS mothers, multiple kids spread out amongst relatives and the system, with more on the way until she hits menopause!!!

  3. RealityCheck says:

    People should have to get a permit to reproduce. I mean you need a license to drive a car, but any moron can pop out children whether they are capable of caring for and raising them.

  4. PC says:

    Oh My God, what an EVIL Awful person. So is she going to go for the insanity plea now? That poor little baby. This is so disgusting…..

  5. Thomas Holman says:

    Karma. She needs to experience the same agony she inflicted on a 6 week old innocent child and die. She cooked an infant child! Wake up! There is no justification for it!

  6. Candy Grand says:

    She needs to be put in the worst prison with murderers and psychopaths. She is both and needs to be treated like the sicko that she is. GROSS!

  7. Miss Dee says:

    I will never understand why people who can’t deal with a child has them in the 1st place. And if you can’t deal, give the child to someone who can. As a parent of a 6 month old, I am thoroughly disgusted and horrified at how someone could sit there and watch…she makes me want to beat her down myself.

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