Oceanside Mother Pleads Not Guilty in Newborn's Death, Restraining Order Alleges History of Violence

Although the cause of death was not disclosed, police said that “based on the information received from the follow-up investigation and the autopsy results,” the defendant should be charged

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A 31-year-old North County woman pleaded not guilty Thursday morning for the murder charge she faces in the death of her newborn.

Kelsey Carpenter of Oceanside was arrested Tuesday and booked into the Vista Detention Facility for charges that include murder and child endangerment. The charges stem from her baby’s November 2020 death.

Just before 7 a.m. on Nov. 15, 2020, Oceanside police were notified of a newborn, later identified in court documents as Kiera C., who wasn’t breathing. Paramedics and officers quickly responded to a home on Canyonside Way and first responders began to render CPR to the baby.

The infant was then taken to an area hospital, where she later died.

The baby’s cause of death has not been revealed but Oceanside police said “based on the information received from the follow-up investigation and the autopsy results,” authorities determined Carpenter should face charges in the case.

Carpenter was ordered to be held without bail pending her next court
appearance. She has a bail review hearing scheduled for April 9.

An Alleged History of Violence

One year ago, James Reynolds said he was working in his auto shop when his ex-girlfriend, Kelsey Carpenter, 31, showed up unannounced. The situation he said quickly turned volatile and violent.  

Leading up to that day, Reynolds said his relationship with Carpenter lasted only a month before he cut ties with her, citing Carpenter’s “violent mood swings” and instability.

Reynolds told NBC 7 that Carpenter claimed he was the father of her child but Reynolds did not believe her as he thought she was seeing other people.  

Then, on March 23, 2020, Reynolds said a furious Carpenter came to the auto garage where he works.

Jovanni Gonzalez owns JoJo’s Auto-Tune & Brake, a garage next to the one Reynolds uses, and was there the day Carpenter approached out of the blue -- a day he said he will not soon forget.

“The day she came down here arguing with [Reynolds], she started making a big scene,” said Gonzalez, who recounted what happened to both police and NBC 7. “The cops didn’t do anything. She was still in the shop making a commotion, throwing tools, doused [Reynolds] in vodka, and threatened to set him on fire.”

Gonzalez and Reynolds told NBC 7 Investigates the incident started with Carpenter shouting at Reynolds about her child. At one point, Gonzalez said Carpenter locked herself in the auto shop’s bathroom, “acting belligerently while yelling something about a child.”  

“It got to the point where she was tossing things around in the shop,” Gonzalez said. “I had to call the police and let them know there is a violent person in the shop and she needs to be gone.”

Reynolds and Gonzalez said they called 911 three times during the altercation but police did not appear. 

Reynolds documented the ordeal in a request for a domestic violence restraining order he filed two days after the auto shop altercation on March 25, 2020. NBC 7 reviewed copies of the restraining order request.

In it, it states Carpenter threw “3-4 closed fist punches” at Reynolds, and that he feared for his safety. Looking back on the whole incident, Gonzalez is shocked that police did not show up and arrest Carpenter. 

“They should’ve gotten rid of her on the first try. If it had been me doing that to somebody? Come on,” Gonzalez said. “I probably would have been beaten up and sent to jail in an instant.”

Court filings do not show a filed response by Carpenter to the allegations laid out in the restraining order requests. A Superior Court Judge ultimately dismissed the request for a permanent restraining order after neither Reynolds nor Carpenter appeared at a June 2020 court hearing. 

Reynolds told NBC 7 he wasn’t aware of the June hearing and would have attended if it meant he could have the court’s protection from Carpenter.  

The last time Reynolds said he spoke with Carpenter was soon after her child died in November. Carpenter, he said, invited him to come over but he turned down her request.  

Gonzalez feels that if Carpenter had gone to jail for the altercation with Reynolds at his shop, Carpenter’s child may have had more protection and a tragedy could have been averted.  

“That’s an adult that can defend themselves back,” Gonzalez said. “Now imagine a newborn baby that can’t defend themselves and she gets angry. Crazy stuff.”

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information on the case is encouraged to contact Oceanside Police Detective Ryan Malone at (760) 435-4537. Anonymous tips can also be made by contacting (760) 435-4730.

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