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Infant Death Case: Mother Reaches Plea Agreement With State

Authorities say Zoraida Magali Conde Hernandez left her 8-month-old boy in a hot car in Arlington in July, causing the infant to die of hyperthermia.

Zoraida Magali Conde Hernandez and two of her children. Nathan, the infant on the right, is the child who died in July. Submitted photo
Zoraida Magali Conde Hernandez and two of her children. Nathan, the infant on the right, is the child who died in July. Submitted photo

Zoraida Magali Conde Hernandez, who authorities say left her infant boy in a hot car last summer, unintentionally killing the child, was ordered Friday afternoon to complete two-and-a-half years of probation in Arlington County Circuit Court.

The 32-year-old Alexandria woman entered an Alford plea, which means she maintains her innocence in light of the felony child neglect charge against her but pleaded guilty after determining that would be in her best interest.

Judge Louise DiMatteo accepted a plea agreement between Conde Hernandez and the Arlington County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office and ordered the woman to complete one year and six months of supervised probation, followed by a year of unsupervised probation.

Conde Hernandez, who is raising her four other children with the help of her mother and boyfriend, must also comply with any conditions set forth by Alexandria Child Protective Services and undergo any mental health counseling as directed by her probation officer.

If she holds up her end of the agreement, the court will dismiss the charge against her.

Commonwealth's Attorney Theo Stamos called Friday action "an appropriate outcome to a difficult case."

"To my mind, there was never a question about whether to bring charges," she told Patch. "This was never about punishment. It's always been about accountability."

By entering an Alford plea on Friday, Conde Hernandez avoids a three-day jury trial, which had been scheduled to start Monday.

Had the case gone to trial, the state would have had to prove that Conde Hernandez willfully neglected her child on July 5, 2013, causing him to die of hyperthermia.

Conde Hernandez, through her attorney Rebecca Wade, declined to comment to Patch following her court appearance.

This article will be updated.

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