A 12-year-old girl survived a harrowing five-hour fight for her life in her Bullfinch Drive apartment by grabbing a vase and hitting her mother in the head early on the morning of Sept. 20, a prosecutor said yesterday.
Carmen Casanova, 44, was arrested Wednesday after her release from a Boston hospital and arraigned yesterday in Lawrence District Court on charges of assault with intent to murder, aggravated assault and battery on a child under 14, and attempted murder.
Prosecutor Jessica Strasnick said the 12-year-old girl told police the events began when her mother woke her out of a sound sleep about 3 a.m. screaming about the devil, and tried to smother her with a pillow. The girl said her mother dropped the pillow and started choking her with her hands, yelling that she was the daughter of Satan, Strasnick said.
The girl said she broke free and her mother chased her and fought with her throughout the fourth-floor apartment. At one point, the girl said her mother bit her finger and grabbed her breast as if she was trying to rip it off, Strasnick said.
The fight ended in the family room when the girl grabbed a vase and struck Casanova in the back of the head, the girl said. She then barricaded herself in her bedroom and called police for help.
When police arrived, the daughter answered the door and police pulled her into the hallway. The girl had a swollen left eye and a fingernail scratch under the eye, and finger marks on her neck and body.
Seeing her condition and being told Casanova had a knife, the officers drew their service weapons and entered the apartment, where they found Casanova in the bathroom.
She was placed in handcuffs on the living room floor, and officers saw her hair appeared to be matted with blood, police said. She told an officer she was a good mother, then lost consciousness, according to police reports. She was released from the handcuffs when medical personnel arrived.
Casanova was airlifted to a Boston hospital, and the girl was taken to Boston Children's Hospital.
The girl told police she had screamed for help in English and Spanish, that she never meant to really hurt her mother, and that her mother had not been taking her medication.
Police found the apartment in disarray with blood stains in several rooms with overturned furniture, several large bloodstains on one of the small single beds in a bedroom, and they also found a knife wrapped in a towel on the blood-stained bed, Strasnick said.
She asked that Casanova be held without bail pending a hearing to determine whether she poses a danger to the community and should remain in jail pending her trial.
But Casanova's lawyer Geoffrey Dubosque, appointed to argue bail only, sought her release without bail or on personal surety.
"In this case it is clear that what happened is unclear," he said. "It is important to note the mother got hit in the head with a vase and was transferred to a Boston hospital."
He told the court that the police investigation on the morning of the incident determined neighbors had heard nothing. Dubosque also said the state had not established probable cause to arrest Casanova.
Judge Thomas Brennan ordered her held without bail and to return to court today for status and the appointment of a lawyer to handle the case.
He granted Strasnick's motion for the dangerousness hearing and the date for that hearing, expected to be held next week, will be set today after appointment of counsel.
The daughter is in the custody of the state Department of Social Services.