The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office this afternoon dismissed child endangerment charges filed against a woman whose young daughter was found alone on a Petaluma street in June. The misdemeanor charge against Ana Laura Rendon, 23, was dismissed because of evidence that was presented at a preliminary hearing in Sonoma County Superior Court in August, Deputy District Attorney Tania Partida said. Petaluma police arrested Rendon after the toddler, Joana, was found crying and barefoot at about 10:30 p.m. on June 20 on the corner of Oak and Kentucky streets, a mile from the Mountain View Avenue home of Rendon’s boyfriend. Police interviewed Rendon and her boyfriend, Jose Manuel Carmona Santiago, the following morning. Rendon was arrested after she admitted she had been drinking tequila the night before and thought her daughter was asleep in her boyfriend’s sister’s room, according to Petaluma police. The police report, however, did not contain information that came to light during the preliminary hearing, according to the district attorney’s office. “After carefully evaluating all of the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing, including new information elicited for the first time, we felt we could no longer proceed against Ms. Rendon and the appropriate thing to do was dismiss,” Assistant District Attorney Diana Gomez said today in a written statement. Testimony at the hearing revealed Carmona Santiago’s ex-girlfriend might have taken the child from the home. Carmona Santiago testified that his ex-girlfriend would enter his house through his bedroom window when she visited him. On the night of June 18, she was angry with him about their breakup and went to his home, Carmona Santiago said. Joana was asleep in his bed at the time, he said. On June 20, his sister, Rosa Edith Carmona, who lived with him, phoned him to tell him his ex-girlfriend’s car was seen near his house, Carmona Santiago said. He said he went home around 10:15 p.m. and spoke with Rendon outside his house for about 10 minutes before they went inside. He said Rendon told him her daughter was probably sleeping in Rosa Edith Carmona’s room. Petaluma police arrested Rendon for misdemeanor child endangerment after the girl was found in the street. The district attorney’s office charged Rendon with a felony, but Judge Julie Conger reduced the charge to a misdemeanor after the two-day preliminary hearing. She ruled the girl was placed in danger but was not likely to suffer great bodily injury or death as alleged in the original felony charge. Rendon pleaded not guilty, and a trial was scheduled for Sept. 17. However, Gomez said all three witnesses who testified at the hearing were credible and reliable, and that after reviewing their testimony, the decision was made to dismiss the charges against Rendon. “They knew from the beginning the child could not get there on her own,” defense attorney Andy Martinez said after the preliminary hearing. Rendon was being held in the Sonoma County jail and faced deportation even for a misdemeanor conviction, Martinez said. Her daughter was staying with relatives, he said. Gomez said the investigation into the circumstances regarding how the child was removed from the home is ongoing.
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