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Smith: Decision day approaches for Carmina

  • Carmina Salcido was only three-years-old when her father, Ramon Salcido, murdered most of her family and left her for dead 25 years ago. Salcido now has a three-year-old daughter of her own. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat file)

Carmina Salcido, once the miracle child of Sonoma County and someone who’s benefited greatly from the generosity of local people, has launched an online appeal for more help as she girds for the trial that will decide if she will permanently lose her own child.

It’s tragedy heaped on tragedy that 25 years after her father slashed her throat at the outset of the region’s worst killing spree, the focus of Carmina’s life is her attempt to demonstrate that her daughter, Zophia, would be safe with her.

The child is 3 years old, about the age Carmina was when her jealous and malevolent father, Ramon Salcido, struck back at perceived affronts in the spring of 1989. He took a knife to his three daughters, then killed their mother, grandmother, two young aunts and a winemaker he’d worked with.

Carmina’s survival was cause for joy amid the horror. Once she healed, she left the state with adoptive parents she has described as abusive. She returned to Sonoma County shortly after emancipation.

Zophia was born to her and former boyfriend Matthew Inocencio in April 2011. She wasn’t yet 3 when child-protection authorities seized her from Carmina early last year.

A report to the court said Zophia was imperiled by her mom’s extreme poor judgment, and it questioned whether Carmina is “emotionally and cognitively able” to demonstrate that she would be a responsible and protective parent were Zophia returned to her.

Carmina concedes in her appeal for cash — gofundme.com/bagun8 — “I haven’t always been the best at making life decisions.” At a closed trial to begin in August, she’ll attempt to persuade a judge that Zophia was removed from her custody unfairly and that she will be a good mother if the child is returned.

Jennifer Ani, a San Rafael attorney specializing in family law and juvenile dependence, has taken on Carmina’s case for no fee. Carmina said she is now asking for money because even though the lawyer isn’t charging her, the trial comes with costs she can’t afford.

I’m in no position to say if it would best serve the safety of Zophia to return her to the custody of Carmina and/or the child’s father, or to entrust her to the family that has taken her in. How I hope to write one day of far happier developments in the lives of this mother and daughter, both living victims of the evil of Ramon Salcido.


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