The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County District Attorney:
Defendant Heather Allison Marsh-Haas, age 31, generally of the Willits and Potter Valley areas, was convicted by plea today of killing her newborn daughter in December 2020.
Marsh-Haas entered a guilty plea Tuesday afternoon to Voluntary Manslaughter, a felony. To resolve her case, the defendant was also required to stipulate to the presumptive state prison sentence of 72 months.
A form of unlawful homicide, voluntary manslaughter requires the same lethal intent as murder. However, the culpability of the offender is deemed reduced or “mitigated” under the law by other negating factors.
Pursuant to the California Penal Code, voluntary manslaughter is also one of only twenty-two felonies characterized as violent in California so any work or good time credits the defendant may attempt to earn towards her early release from state prison to parole supervision shall be limited to no more than 15% of the total sentence to be imposed.
This conviction also constitutes a future Strike under California’s voter-modified Three Strikes law.
As background, Mendocino County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the emergency department at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley last December following unsuccessful attempts by medical staff to resuscitate a 30-day old newborn who had been brought to the hospital.
As part of their efforts to try and save the child, hospital medical staff obtained a blood sample from the child’s mother to analyze to look for clues. Subsequent toxicology tests of that sample revealed the presence of methamphetamine in the defendant’s drawn blood.
The deceased was later forensically examined by the county’s pathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu, in an effort to attempt to determine a cause of death. With the help of toxicology tests, Dr. Omalu conclusively determined that the little girl died as a result of methamphetamine toxicity.
The joint law enforcement and medical investigations determined that the lethal source of the child’s methamphetamine was from the mother having recently ingested drugs that she then passed through to the child in her breast milk.
The local law enforcement agency that developed the evidence to convict defendant Marsh-Haas was the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
The attorney who worked with the investigators, charged the defendant, and will continue to handle this case through formal sentencing is Assistant District Attorney Dale P. Trigg.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Carly Dolan accepted the defendant’s guilty plea Tuesday afternoon and will impose the stipulated prison sentence at a sentencing hearing that has been set for October 8, 2021 at 9 o’clock in the morning in Department H in the Ukiah courthouse.
Any person interested in this defendant or this case is welcome to attend the October 8th sentencing hearing. Come prepared – masks are still required in and about the courthouse.