The Morgan Hill woman accused of using her 10-year-old daughter to steal groceries was arraigned in South County Courthouse Friday afternoon on charges of commercial burglary, a felony, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor.
Marcy Erico (Keelin has been cited previously, but is an alias), 38, is being held on $50,000 bail.
Erico stood handcuffed, her lips trembling in the nearly empty courtroom as the prosecuting attorney, Steve Lowney, described how she left her 10-year-old daughter by herself when she fled the scene at Safeway two weeks ago.
Erico's defense attorney asked the judge to release her, claiming that Erico promised her she would stay local and show up for court.
Lowney countered, characterizing Erico as a flight risk who is unreliable to show up to her next court date.
"Look at what it took just to get her back today," Lowney said. "I don't have any level of comfort in her returning."
Erico was arrested Friday just outside Reno, Nev. after she had fled the state.
It triggered a nationwide alert after she fled police with her infant son, police said.
When Morgan Hill police contacted the suspect by phone last Friday she told officers if she had not been traveling with her 11-month-old son she would have killed herself, Sgt. Troy Hoefling said. She was also traveling with an adult male companion, and refused to tell police where she was.
An Endangered Missing Advisory was sent out nationwide in an effort to find Keelin and her son, Hoefling said. Police learned she might have been returning to Wyoming, and may have been staying in the Reno area.
She was arrested with the child unharmed, after a Lyon County, Nev., deputy located Keelin’s vehicle in the parking lot of a hotel near Fernley, Nev. just outside Reno about 10 p.m. Friday, police said. Deputies knocked on her hotel room door, and Keelin answered and was detained without incident.
Her infant son is now in the custody of Child Protective Services of Nevada, Hoefling said. The male companion was not arrested.
Police have been looking for Keelin since Sept. 19, when she allegedly coerced her 10-year-old daughter into trying to steal a cart full of groceries from the Safeway store at 235 Tennant Station in Morgan Hill, Hoefling said.
The mother and daughter entered the store that day and filled up the cart with groceries, police said. On the way out, Keelin told her daughter to wait inside the store’s front door until the mother pulled up with her vehicle.
Among the $150 worth of groceries in the cart was a 24-pack of beer, Hoefling said.
The child attempted to do as her mother instructed, but the theft was foiled when store employees followed the 10-year-old girl outside, police said. Keelin fled the scene, leaving her daughter behind.
The 10-year-old was eventually turned over to her grandmother, police said.
Keelin and her daughter committed a similar theft two weeks earlier at the same store, getting away with about $60 worth of groceries, Hoefling said.
Keelin was held in the Lyon County Jail pending an extradition hearing, Hoefling said. She was transferred to Santa Clara County this week.
Child Protective Services in Nevada and Santa Clara County will arrange for the safe return of Keelin’s infant son to Santa Clara County, Hoefling added.
Anyone with information about the case may contact the Morgan Hill Police Department at 408-779-2101 or 408-947-7867.