Woman accused of hitting baby linked to 2009 stabbing
by Krystal Paco
Guam - It was a story that sparked public outcry. A woman caught on camera punching a 10-month-old baby in the face. And as we reported last week, the victim's family found community support over the internet. Within 24 hours of posting the surveillance footage of the attack online, the suspect Yu Hua Han was identified and apprehended.
But this wouldn't be the first time the defendant is accused of attacking a child.
"My feelings are crushed. We're hurt. We're frustrated. We're dumbfounded. How could this attack happen again?" said Krystal Townsend. Back in February 2009, she and her family had just finished eating dinner at Lonestar Steakhouse in Tamuning when her baby girl, 23-month-old Gabriella was attacked by a woman holding a knife. "I lifted up her dress and you saw the blood coming down," she recalled.
In his attempts to stop the attack, Townsend's husband William, was also stabbed in the chest. William, who works in Security Forces for the Air Force, apprehended the woman until police arrived. Both William and Gabriella were treated at Naval Hospital. "It took them 42 stitches to stitch my daughter back together. And I think it was 25 for my husband," she said.
The woman, Townsend says, was Yu Hua Yu - the same woman alleged to have punched 10-month-old Alexya Esser in the face on New Years Day. Yu was arrested last Friday as a result and although the Judiciary of Guam, the Attorney General's Office, and the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center have provided little information on Yu's prior cases, Townsend gives KUAM News answers relative to the 2009 stabbing.
Townsend says Yu didn't face a jury because local and off-island medical experts deemed Yu unfit to stand trial. "It wasn't until October 2010 that they gave her the verdict of not guilty by mental insanity because she had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia they said that she was not at the right state of mind at the time to be aware of her actions," she said.
It appears the 2009 case could have been expunged as the court could not confirm or deny the availability of records related to the case. "My understanding was that she was going to be court ordered to take her medication. I know that the medication isn't a magic pill but that she was supposed to be monitored more closely so another attack like this wouldn't happen," she said.
Even if Yu's past crimes may have been wiped clean, Townsend says Gabriella, who is now 7-years-old, still asks about her scars, saying, "'Daddy, we have matching scars.' I said, 'Honey, do you know why you have matching scars?', because I wanted to see what she remembered. And her demeanor changed you could tell she knows its something bad but she doesn't know what."
The Townsends left Guam in 2010 and now live in Louisiana. Although thousands of miles apart, she hopes her story can bring justice for Alexya Esser and her family.
On Saturday, Yu Hua Yu appeared before Magistrate Judge Alberto Tolentino where she was formally charged with assault and child abuse, both as misdemeanors for allegedly punching Alexya Esser in the arcade area of the Micronesia Mall last Thursday. "I don't understand English," she responded. The judge said, Are you working?" to which she replied, "I'm not working."
During the hearing, the public was asked to step out briefly as the government noted that the facts of the case could not be discussed in open court. Yu said. "I have a mental." Tolentino said, "What the court is going to tell you is that given the nature and the seriousness of the alleged offense, the court agrees with the governments recommendation of a cash bail however instead of $20,000 because you are only charged with misdemeanors, the court's going to order that you be held until you come up with $5,000 in cash."
Yu was appointed a public defender. Her next court appearance is her arraignment set for January 14.
Prison records show that aside from the New Year's incident and the stabbing in 2009, Yu was also arrested in 2008 for assault and terrorizing but released.