Campbell County mother can't be charged in baby's death

Published: Dec. 17, 2009 at 1:07 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 17, 2009 at 3:11 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

By Angela Hatcher - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CAMPBELL COUNTY, VA (WSLS) - Police in Campbell County, Virginia say the child was killed by its mother moments after she gave birth, but they can't charge the mother because of a loophole in a state law.

Around eleven Friday morning the Campbell County Sheriff's Office got a call that a woman in her early 20's was in labor. When deputies arrived at a home in the 12 hundred block of Lone Jack Road in Rustburg they discovered the baby had actually been born alive ten hours earlier, but was dead by the time they were called out there.

"I believe everyone was upset, except for the person who should have been upset, the mother" said Investigator Tracy Emerson.

Emerson says that's because the mother suffocated the child under bedding. He can't charge the mother, because of a loophole in state law.

"In the state of Virginia as long as the umbilical cord is attached and the placenta is still in the mother, if the baby comes out alive the mother can do whatever she wants to with that baby to kill it. And in the state of Virginia, it's no crime," said Emerson. "She could shoot the baby, stab the baby as long as it's still attached to her in some form by umbilical cord or something and it's no crime in the state of Virginia."

If there were any way to charge this mother and put her in jail, investigators say they would. In fact, they work to try to get the state law changed after another similar incident in Campbell County. Talking to two delegates and one state senator, asking them to take this issue up with the General Assembly, but they say those three refused because it's too close to the abortion issue.

"Simply because the mother was there, and the baby had not taken its own identity allegedly at this point, it makes the baby not its own person," Emerson said.

According to a law - not according to Emerson who believes the little life deserves justice. Investigators also say the woman knew she was pregnant and had received prenatal care. Authorities add that the baby was full-term and due this week. The medical examiner says the baby was born healthy. An autopsy is being performed.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.