A South Carolina jury found a young mother guilty Thursday of trying to kill her newborn baby by disposing of the child in the trash. She faces up to 30 years in prison for the attempted murder, with sentencing scheduled for next Thursday.
WPDE reports that on April 9, 2015, Shelby Taylor, 26, gave birth to a baby girl at home in Myrtle Beach while her husband and their then-15-month-old daughter slept. She put the newborn in a white plastic trash bag and dropped it in the communal dumpster at her apartment complex.
According to the report, Trinity Grace, now 3, was discovered there in a garbage bag with her still-attached umbilical cord wrapped around her neck.
Defense attorneys reportedly requested that the judge further delay sentencing in order to consider information about a severe type of postpartum depression Taylor purportedly suffered from when she tossed her newborn baby into a garbage dumpster.
Regarding that condition, called transient peripartum psychosis, defense attorney Greg McCollum told WMBF, “This is something prevalent in the world, it happens.”
“There has been studies of it and different jurisdictions in the state treat it differently …So we think it would be helpful if the judge has the benefit of seeing some of that science and how this is treated beyond what was presented in court.”
Myrtle Beach Online reports that psychologist Robert McCarthy, an expert witness for the defense, testified that the psychological illness can result in the rare phenomenon of “baby dumping.”
WBTW reports that Taylor had denied her entire pregnancy when asked by friends and family if she was expecting. Horry County Prosecutor Scott Hixon argued that this deception proves Taylor always intended to kill the baby, rather than suffering from an acute psychological episode that caused her to attempt infanticide.
Another Myrtle Beach Online trial report describes the testimony of Raymond Price, then 13, who “found the bag with the baby’s face pressed up against the bag.”
Price and his brother had heard what they believed to be a cat crying inside the dumpster, and hopped in to rescue it. Instead, they found the bag containing the baby, who was just a few hours old. After removing the newborn from the receptacle, Price ran to get help while his brother kept guard.
Police Detective Jeremy Neely, who arrived at the scene shortly thereafter, testified that he found a timestamped restaurant receipt in the bag, which allowed police to obtain security camera footage of Taylor and distribute it to local news media. Taylor turned herself into police custody later that night upon seeing her picture on television.
The website additionally reports that the trial, which began Monday, included testimony from Taylor herself. In her tearful account of events, she explained that she believed the family could not afford to raise another child. She also accused her husband of abuse, and claims to have feared he would leave her for birthing another dependent.
Jurors took about an hour and a half to deliver the guilty verdict, WMBF estimates.
The child is being raised by her paternal grandparents.
[Feature image: Horry County Police/Shelby Taylor]