American woman found guilty in death of daughter in Italy
November 10, 2006
NAPLES, Italy — An Italian judge Wednesday found a 22-year-old American woman guilty of negligent homicide in the death of her year-old daughter in April, according to her defense attorney.
Naomi Salinas, who also goes by the name of Elizabeth Naomi Costa, was found not guilty of the more serious charge of abandonment of a minor during a one-day trial at the Latina court, said her Naples-based defense attorney, Antonio Ammendola.
“I argued that there was not the crime of abandonment of a minor,” he said. “She was negligent, and that caused the death of the little girl, but she was not guilty of abandonment, which in Italy is much more serious.”
Salinas faced an 11½-year sentence on the abandonment charge.
The judge, Lucia Aielli, sentenced Salinas to three years in prison. But under an Italian law passed this May, she won’t have to spend a day behind bars.
In an effort to ease overcrowding in Italy’s prison, people convicted of some nonviolent crimes do not have to serve sentences that are three years or less, Ammendola said Thursday in a phone interview. Salinas has been on house arrest since being charged in May.
Salinas was the wife of a U.S. sailor stationed at the U.S. Navy base in Gaeta. The two are separated.
On April 24, Salinas left her two children, 1-year-old Brooke and 3-year-old Michael, in the tub while she ran downstairs in their two-story house to fetch towels, Ammendola said. While on her way back, she answered a phone call from her husband, which delayed her return to the bathroom. During that time Brooke drowned, Ammendola said.
Salinas will leave Italy on Friday to return to her family in Texas, Ammendola said.
“She is not being required to leave. She is free. But she wants to return to her family, her parents,” he said, adding Salinas is several months pregnant.
An e-mail sent to the Salinas’ families’ last known address seeking comment was not returned.