A homeless woman charged with choking a 75-year-old woman to death declared her innocence in court and in a telephone interview on Tuesday with the Pasadena Weekly.
Mary Jean O’Connor, 41, is charged with one count of murder in connection with the death of Pasadena resident Jeri Douglas. Douglas’s daughter adopted O’Connor’s eldest son after the court deemed her an unfit parent.
Due to an error by a source close to the investigation, the Weekly incorrectly reported last week that Douglas’ daughter adopted two of O’Connor’s children.
“No, I didn’t do it, but I am not going to discuss it on a recorded phone line.” O’Connor said from jail, where she is being held on $2 million bail.
She pleaded not guilty earlier in the day in Pasadena Superior Court. O’Connor returns to court on Feb. 26.
Police performed a welfare check at Douglas’s home on Dec. 17 after her daughter was unable to reach her for several days.
O’Connor, who has five children, was arrested hours later by Pasadena police at a mobile home she was staying at in North Hollywood.
O’Connor has a history of encounters with law enforcement and the foster care system dating back to at least 2006, when she was charged with solicitation of prostitution in Long Beach. In 2008, the Pasadena Weekly covered her successful battle to avoid eviction over having too many service animals.
In 2010, she was the subject of a number of stories regarding her battle with Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) over custody of two of her children. Since then, one other child has been placed with her mother, another is in DCFS custody and yet another’s whereabouts are uncertain to the Weekly.
In 2012, O’Connor and Marjorie McNary were ordered to vacate an Altadena property that the owners claimed they were occupying illegally. Officials turned off the water to attempt to convince the women to move out. The pair was eventually evicted.
“I miss my kids like hell,” said O’Connor.