A woman accused of kidnapping an 11-month-old girl who was in the backseat of an SUV she allegedly stole appeared in a San Jose courtroom this morning. Karla Hernandez, 23, of San Jose — who had previously told authorities she was 30 — has been charged with kidnapping, child endangerment, and car theft in the March 25 abduction of Gabriella Quintero outside her home in the 2300 block of Amador Court. Hernandez, dressed in orange jail clothes, appeared in Santa Clara County Superior Court this morning, but Judge Philip Pennypacker delayed the case until May 8 to allow her attorney more time to review evidence. Deputy District Attorney Bret Wasley said that the San Jose Police Department was able to compile a good deal of video evidence. That evidence includes footage captured by an exterior camera at a neighbor’s home that he said shows the defendant standing two cars away from the mother’s 2006 Jeep Liberty just before the alleged kidnapping, which occurred at about 6:30 a.m.
The Jeep was taken after baby’s mother, Graciella Quintero, left the car unattended momentarily with the key in the ignition as she went to close the garage door. Wasley said outside of court this morning that Hernandez must have known the baby was in the car. He credited the police and Amber Alert system with the quick recovery of the baby and the Jeep outside an apartment complex in the 400 block of Amargosa Court around 11:20 a.m. that day. DNA and fingerprints were obtained from the inside of the car, Wasley said. He said that before abandoning the car, Hernandez allegedly drove to a Laundromat on Senter Road. “I think the evidence will show she got out of the car and got back in,” Wasley said. He also alleged that Hernandez took the battery out of the mother’s cellphone, which was in the car — an action prosecutors said was intended to prevent tracking her location. She then drove away and abandoned the car outside of the apartment complex, with the baby still inside. The baby was later found safe by police officers and returned to her mother.
Hernandez was arrested in San Jose on April 12 for possession of methamphetamine. After her arrest, investigators linked her to the kidnapping. She was charged with drug possession and will appear in court for that case on Tuesday. She faces up to 10 years in state prison if convicted of the kidnapping charges.
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