Los Angeles woman arrested again on suspicion of attempted kidnapping in Koreatown

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

For the second time this year, a Los Angeles woman with a mental health disorder has been arrested on suspicion of attempting to kidnap a child in Koreatown.

Her previous sentencing for attempted kidnapping resulted in a diversion program for a mental health disorder that the court believed had a role in her initial crime.

But police say she tried another abduction Tuesday, when LAPD officers responded to reports of a woman approaching children about 5 p.m. at Seoul International Park on the 3200 block of San Marino Street, according to the department.

Witnesses who spoke to officers said the woman, identified as Yara Vanessa Pineda, approached several children, picked them up and then let them go, KTLA-TV Channel 5 reported.

Pineda, 27, allegedly put the children down after their parents confronted her, and then she fled.

Officers saw Pineda running down Normandie Avenue and tried to arrest her, said Jader Chaves, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department. She resisted, and officers used a Taser to subdue her, Chaves said.

The LAPD had arrested her Feb. 28 on suspicion of trying to kidnap a young boy from a Target.

On Feb. 25, Olympic Division officers responded to a report that Pineda allegedly grabbed a 4-year-old child from behind and carried him out of the store, according to a police report.

Pineda allegedly put the child down after his parents confronted her outside. The family told officers they didn’t know Pineda.

Three days later, officers in the North Hollywood area got a call from a person who saw Pineda and recognized her from a community alert issued by police. She was found and arrested in the attempted kidnapping.

On May 21, Pineda was sentenced to two years of a mental health diversion program. It was unclear from court records why she was released so recently after the previous arrest.

A court is allowed to grant a mental health diversion for individuals with a felony charge if they are diagnosed with a mental health disorder and do not pose a significant safety risk if treated in the community, according to the California Department of State Hospitals. The charges, however, can’t be murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape or lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14.

The diagnosis can be of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder.

Pineda’s diagnosis was not disclosed in court documents.

A mental health diversion is granted when the court deems that a mental health disorder played a role in the criminal behavior.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.