MILWAUKEE -- The charges against a 16-year-old Shorewood girl accused of burying her dead newborn in a flower bed at her family's home were dismissed Monday afternoon.
The charges were dismissed because the prosecutor could not prove the defendant had buried the infant's body to prevent the determination that the child was born alive or dead. The medical examiner's office listed the death as undetermined after an autopsy because the body was so badly decomposed. The teenager herself was also unsure if the child was born alive or dead.
The police report in the case said the girl gave birth in the bathtub of her home, and thought the baby was dead, but wasn’t sure. She placed the baby in a shoebox and put it in a drawer in her room. The report also said the girl apparently removed the baby’s body from her bedroom after about a week and a half, when the smell got too strong, and buried it in the flower bed.
The girl told police she didn’t tell anyone about the birth because she was worried about her reputation, and her mom’s reputation. She says she was most worried about disappointing her mom, and says she later regretted the decision to hide the birth.
Prosecutors spent the day Monday bringing forward witnesses to re-tell the events that led the teen mom to bury her son. Detective Christine Preston with the Shorewood Police Department has spent a lot of time with the teen, reconstructing what happened through several conversations. "She said she was very busy with activities, she was working out several times a day, watching what she was eating," Preston said.
Preston said the girl told her she had noticed her weight increasing in July, but did not believe she was pregnant. She told Preston it wasn't until she was home alone in mid-August that it became clear. "She said she felt very sick, and felt like she wanted to take a bath. She drew herself a bath and was in the bathtub," Preston said. Preston said the girl told her she felt like she had to have a bowel movement, but could not move. "She said the baby came out, and she didn't know what to do. She said the baby was underwater at that point, for a minute or two," Preston said.
According to Preston, that's when the girl put the baby's body in the shoebox. "She said she thought a lot about her future, and a lot about things that were going on in her life," Preston said.
Prosecutors used Monday's testimony to try to prove the girl had buried the newborn's body to prevent the determination of whether the child was born alive or dead. They did so unsuccessfully, and the girl was cleared of all charges.