|Birth: ||Dec. 28, 2004|
|Death: ||May 13, 2006|
A baby girl is dead. Her nanny is in jail, accused of killing her. The horror of the case has rippled across the country; for two families, it has overtaken everything else.
In their immaculate Roseville home, the family of 15-month-old Hannah Rose Juceam sits in shock. Daisies and roses and photographs of their giggling daughter crowd the playroom. Condolence cards line the mantel.
Broken-hearted, they've explained to their young sons that their sister is an angel now. Three-year-old Jordie tells his parents he doesn't want an angel, he wants Hannah.
In another corner of the region, another family sits in their neat Elk Grove home, cradling photographs of 36-year-old Veronica Martinez Salcedo. She was the Juceams' baby sitter; she is the Martinez family's aunt and mother and sister and daughter. They can't believe she would shake a baby to death, as she stands accused.
Martinez Salcedo, who lives in Sacramento, was arrested May 12. On Wednesday afternoon, an hour before Hannah's funeral, she entered a plea of not guilty to felony charges of second-degree murder and assault on a child causing death.
For the Juceams and the Martinez family, the tragedy of Hannah's death has led to separate quests for justice, and for meaning.
A week after his daughter's death, Scott Juceam, has sought to turn her name into a rallying cry against baby shaking.
"I feel like the more I speak, the better it's going to be," he said.
Friday morning, cameras from "Inside Edition" filled his living room. Scott Juceam and his wife, Lorena, sat in front of them. Lorena Juceam told the host, sobbing, that she sometimes gets up in the morning to get her daughter's bottle ready, then realizes she's not there.
"It's a nightmare and I just want to wake up," she said.
In the afternoon, Scott Juceam marched up and down the halls of the Capitol, holding Lorena's hand, sometimes pausing to kiss her cheek. They knocked on the door of Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, and Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, and eventually made their way to the office of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
At every stop, the message was the same:
"Our daughter died," Juceam said. "We need to do something. Our daughter died."
Their loosely formed proposal, Hannah's Law, would make baby shaking a crime, and would promote educational campaigns on shaken baby syndrome. Juceam said billboards and bus station ads bearing his daughter's face soon will appear throughout Sacramento, imploring people not to shake their babies. He plans to get a tattoo of her face on his arm, and has started the "Stop Shaking Your Baby" foundation.
None of it will bring back their daughter, or take away the questions they say plague them: What if Lorena hadn't gone to the bank when she did? What if she had taken Hannah with her? What if they had told their baby sitter to never shake a baby?
They said they met Martinez Salcedo through a friend several months ago, after having searched high and low for a sitter. Every other candidate seemed wrong, they said. Martinez Salcedo seemed nice, and Jordie liked her. They paid for her to go to the dentist when she needed, they said, and told her she was part of the family.
"We never told this woman this concept: 'Don't shake your baby,'" Scott Juceam said. "In our case we assumed too much."
Martinez Salcedo's siblings say their sister is warm and funny and wonderful with children. She plays Nintendo with them, tells them jokes, lets them comb her hair with their fingers and tell her secrets. She has a 10-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter, whom she raised alone after her husband died a decade ago.
Before she started working for the Juceams a few months ago, her siblings said, she cared for all the children in the family while their parents went to work. Sometimes, 34-year-old Cecilia Martinez said, she would leave her children with her sister-in-law for weeks while she traveled to Mexico.
Martinez Salcedo's family has been afraid to talk to the media. They don't want to make things any harder on their sister; they're not certain what they should or shouldn't do. Cecilia Martinez and Guadalupe Rojas, Martinez Salcedo's sister, spoke on condition that their middle names be used; they are afraid of the repercussions for themselves and their husbands at work.
They cry when they talk about Martinez Salcedo.
"She didn't do it," her youngest brother, Ramon Martinez, said in Spanish. "I am 100 percent certain. A thousand percent certain. I don't believe this about my sister, and I'm never going to believe it."
Rojas said Martinez Salcedo stayed alone with the Juceams' children while they took trips to Las Vegas and San Francisco. She'd work there from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., then come home to tell stories about the children, Rojas said. Jordie was teaching her words in English. Hannah was learning to crawl. She cared for the children, they said, as if they were her own.
"She was very happy in that job," Cecilia Martinez said in Spanish. "She said she would like to stay there forever."
On the afternoon of Thursday, May 11, Scott Juceam said his wife had been gone to the bank for only 14 minutes when she received a call from Martinez Salcedo: "Something's wrong! Something's wrong with Hannah!"
Lorena Juceam called 911; by the time she got home, the paramedics were there. Hannah survived on life support until Saturday, but she never again woke up.
Martinez Salcedo came home that day inconsolable, Rojas said. She was crying and praying for the baby.
A priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Father Lino Otero, said Martinez Salcedo told him Friday that Hannah had hurt herself falling down. He said family members told him later that Martinez Salcedo said she had shaken Hannah to try to wake her.
Jeff Wood, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, said he did not believe that story was true. "I don't believe that's actually what happened, no ... and that's based on what the defendant subsequently told the Roseville Police Department," he said.
Sierra Hills Memorial Park
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Sandra Tyler Duncan
Record added: May 21, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 14349744