Paramedic, officer testify in mother’s murder trial

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Testimony in day two of the Candace Cartagena murder trial centered on the mother’s condition when she was found on the grounds of her home.

Her 8-year-old daughter Bianca had already died in her house, but Candace claimed she had no memory of that happening.

Candace was discovered inside her backyard shed. Twin City Ambulance paramedic Donald Snyder and Amherst Police officer Mark Doldan testified she had her eyes closed and later indicated she had taken pills. They said she had talked about her failed marriage.

While first appearing to be unconscious, they said she didn’t have the symptoms of a person who was passed out.

“I believed she was faking,” Snyder testified. He said while he was in the ambulance with Candace, “I said open your eyes, I know you can hear me.”

Amherst Police officer Mark Doldan said on the witness stand, “At first she pretended not to be able to respond.” Later, he said, “She seemed to be in decent condition.”

They said when the 35-year-old mother began answering questions she claimed to have no knowledge that her 8-year-old daughter Bianca had died inside her house 24 hours earlier.

During opening statements on Monday, Erie County Prosecutor Kristen St. Mary told Judge Thomas Franczyk, “When they ask her ‘Do you remember anything happening to Bianca?’ Her response is so calculated and reveals her entire plan: ‘Well, not unless something happened after I took the pills. I would never hurt Bianca.’”

The defense is asserting that Bianca died suddenly of an undiagnosed heart condition. Candace’s attorney Joseph Terranova told reporters outside the courtroom Monday that Candace’s emotional state and what she said in text messages and e-mails while going through a divorce and having no job or money is not relevant.

“The people have to prove intent to commit a homicide,” said Terranova. “You don’t take behavior from months before, weeks before, during, to be especially relevant.”

Prosecutors say Candace engaged in a calculated effort to distance herself from her daughter’s death. They say evidence will indicate Bianca was fighting for her life before she died.

Terranova says that can’t be proven. But some relatives believe Bianca was smothered by her mother in a desperate act of rage and jealousy. Bianca was just days away from going to Disney World with her father.

Prosecutor St. Mary said, “She was frustrated. She was angry, and this was making her dangerous.”

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