Woman accused of stabbing her mother to death in Homestead

A woman charged with stabbing her mother to death during a fight appeared in court on Monday, where her odd behavior prompted a Miami-Dade judge to order a psychological evaluation.

The family tragedy played out Sunday when Sonia Santiesteban, 65, asked her 40-year-old daughter to leave her South Miami-Dade home at 17360 SW 232nd St. Santiesteban lived in a mobile-home park with three children she had adopted.

Angered, Yudenia Rodriguez pushed her mother, who frequently used a wheelchair, to the ground and began hitting her. Santiesteban’s 15-year-old granddaughter witnessed the attack and tried to call 911, but police said Rodriguez took the phone from the teen and slapped her several times to keep her from calling for help.

Rodriguez then grabbed a kitchen knife and began stabbing her mother, killing Santiesteban, Miami-Dade police said.

Rodriguez was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, child abuse and tampering with a witness.

On Monday, Rodriguez made a bizarre appearance at bond court, asking a judge to remove her handcuffs, correcting the judge and saying her mother “did not die” and falling asleep in mid-hearing. Rodriguez remains in Miami-Dade County jail without bond.

Now, Santiestaban’s three grandchildren are with relatives until a hearing is held to determine who will now care for them. Santiesteban told el Nuevo Herald last year, when she was featured in the newspaper’s holiday-giving Wish Book series, that she had adopted the children eight years ago to prevent them from being separated and sent into the foster-care system. The two youngest were half-siblings to the teenage granddaughter who witnessed the murder.

Santiesteban’s oldest son had lost custody of all the children after he landed in prison on drug-related charges. The children’s mother also lost custody, leaving Santiesteban the closest adult who could take them in.

In her interview in December for the charity program, Santiesteban said the children had changed her life.

For Christmas, the family wanted the community to help them repair the mobile home they lived in, where the floor and walls were slowly falling apart. Santiesteban had bought the trailer for $16,000 several years ago.

Family history

Yudenia Rodriguez was not living with the family at the time, but Santiesteban indicated that she suffered from mental and emotional problems. It’s unclear why she moved in with her mother.

The Cuban-born grandmother had spent decades cleaning houses and hotels until she suffered a fall on the job in 2011 and broke her hip. Since then, Santiesteban could not get around without a wheelchair.

Santiesteban and her family lived in Boston for years until she decided to leave her abusive husband and head for Miami, she told the newspaper. The family had arrived from Cuba in 1980 during the Mariel boatlift. She made the trip with her ex-husband, her son and the daughter now accused in her murder.

Miami Herald news partner CBS4 contributed to this report.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category