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Mother in 'horrific' child abuse case gives up parental rights to toddler

Crystal Herrera, 22, blamed daughter's injuries on dog

SAN ANTONIO – A mother accused in a horrendous child abuse case has given up her parental rights to the toddler involved.

Crystal Herrera, 22, was indicted in March along with her boyfriend Issac Cardenas, 24, for what the Bexar County District Attorney's Office called "horrific injuries" to her 21-month old daughter.

According to the District Attorney's Office, the pair claimed the girl was attacked by dogs, but the injuries didn't match the story. Instead, they were "consistent with a brutal sexual assault."

In addition to the criminal case against her, the state also took Herrera to civil court to terminate her parental rights. After the defense was unable to delay the civil case, however, it effectively ended it.

Speaking in a Friday morning hearing for the civil case, Herrera's attorney, Byron Barnett, noted that Herrera is scheduled to appear in court next month in her criminal case.

"And she's at this point in a situation where she can't possibly testify," Barnett said. "She's presumed innocent in that case. However, she can't testify today because that's pending, and it seems at a minimum, we should allow some of that to run its course in the criminal matter to allow her to be heard."

Judge Richard Garcia denied the motion, and the trial was set for Friday afternoon. Before it could get underway, Herrera voluntarily relinquished her parental rights.

Garcia said he could only speculate why Herrera did it, but said that if she had taken the stand in the civil case and invoked the Fifth Amendment, it could have negatively affected her.

Herrera is scheduled to appear in court on June 12 for her criminal case.

While the toddler's father is not involved in the criminal case, as the other parent, he is involved in the civil case. Until a determination is made about him, the girl will continue to stay with a relative.

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