Court date set for parents of rescued girl

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies work to keep a child from falling through a window screen on the second floor of an apartment building. Austin Dave/The Signal

Parents of a girl rescued after she was found pushing on a second-floor window screen last week are expected to appear in court Monday on suspicion of cruelty to a child that is likely to produce injury or death.

The rescued girl’s parents, Lucia Romero and Gerren Mitchell, each 28, mother and father respectively, were arrested after the incident in which sheriff’s deputies and firefighters rescued the girl.

The father remains in custody at the North County Correctional Facility at the Pitchess Detention Center. The mother, however, was released from custody 24 hours after she was arrested, according to information maintained and posted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Inmate Information Center.

Each parent faces a felony charge of cruelty to a child likely to produce injury or death. Bail for each parent was set at $100,000.

Both parents are scheduled to appear in San Fernando Superior Court in less than a week, on Monday.

The couple’s daughter, meanwhile, remains in the custody of the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services after firefighters and sheriff’s deputies rescued the girl and turned her over to social workers.

The harrowing experience began for the child Wednesday when a neighbor called the SCV Sheriff’s Station regarding the small child, saying she was suspected to be home alone and was crying and leaning on a window screen from inside an upper-level apartment, SCV sheriff’s spokeswoman Shirley Miller said.

Deputies were prepared to catch the young girl if the screen gave out, while others yelled up to her repeatedly to “go sit on your bed” or “step back from window,” to which the young girl was unresponsive, according to witnesses.

Firefighters forced their way into the apartment and scooped up the child, who was then taken to the hospital.

Typically, parents of children removed from the family home by social workers are granted a detention hearing where they can make their case for custody before a judge.

A social worker cannot remove a child form a home unless the social worker has a warrant signed by a judge.  

“When the warrant is granted and a child is removed from their home, a detention hearing is automatically scheduled within 72 hours, whether the parent wants the hearing or not,” DCFS spokeswoman Juana Aguilera said Monday.

“During these hearings the social worker provides documentation to the court, such as medical reports, drug tests, police reports, and makes a recommendation to the court based on the social worker’s findings,” she said.

The attorneys representing the parents, children and the department then make a decision on whether the child will remain in the home.

Information about such a hearing or about the child’s placement is confidential and cannot to shared with the media.

The judge will decide if the parent is able and willing to care for the child.

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