Pena's attorney, Thomas Cavanaugh, told jurors his client was a "very conscientious, hardworking single parent" who struggled to support her family. Pena was a housekeeper at Eisenhower Medical Center.
He said Pena was a "very fastidious woman" whose discipline of her children "warped into abuse." She disciplined them when they didn't get good grades or did something wrong.
"This is a case of a struggling mother who crossed the line and became abusive, but with those goals in mind," Cavanaugh said.
Delilah, he said, was a "troubled child" who struggled in the strict environment and acted out. He said Pena was very upset and emotional when her daughter died.
"Despite the evidence of abuse ... Ms. Pena did not intend or cause the death of her child on the day in question," Cavanaugh said.
Pena was being held in lieu of $1 million bail.