SANTA CRUZ -- Jury selection began Tuesday for Veva Virgil, a 41-year-old Aptos woman accused of smothering her 3-year-old daughter to death inside a Watsonville hotel room in 2008.
The trial begins more than five years after Virgil's daughter, Isabella Grace Martinez, was found inside the empty hotel room by a housekeeper on Nov. 16, 2008. Virgil, who is charged with murder, was arrested the next morning in San Jose at Good Samaritan Hospital after telling hospital staff that she had sent her baby to heaven, according to testimony during a preliminary hearing.
Virgil has a history of mental illness and resumed use of methamphetamine a month before her daughter's death, according to court records.
Several psychiatric evaluations were delayed, slowing the trial's progress. Virgil's case also was reassigned twice to different public defenders.
Virgil faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, prosecutors said.
She is being held in Santa Cruz County Jail in lieu of $750,000 bail.