Father pleads no contest to 2016 church drowning of daughter

Gavel (FILE)
Posted at 4:28 PM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 19:28:22-04

HEALDSBURG, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say a Northern California man has pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter charges in the drowning of his 4-year-old daughter in the baptismal pool of a Catholic church.

Officials say Gerardo Mendoza had been smoking methamphetamine for days and thought his two youngest children were being attacked by evil. He took them to Healdsburg’s St. John the Baptist Catholic Church on Nov. 20, 2016, in search of a priest.

Court documents show that when he couldn't find one, he led his daughter Maria into a cross-shaped baptismal pool at least a foot deep.

The Press Democrat reports Mendoza entered his plea Wednesday. He faces 11 years in prison.