Virginia woman’s newborn baby drowns in toilet, mother given suspended sentence

 

By Dave Andrusko

Devin Monique Small

Devin Monique Small

Last week a Virginia woman who gave birth to a baby whom paramedics found drown in the toilet still attached to the mother, was given a three-year suspended jail term.

“The prosecution and defense, in an agreement reached weeks ago, have concluded that Devin Monique Small, 22, did not kill her newborn child with premeditation or malice, the elements required for a finding of first-degree murder,” according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Mark Bowles. In a May 7 appearance in Dinwiddie Circuit Court, Small pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

“The reduced charge to which she pleaded guilty means the baby’s death was unintentional but criminally negligent in terms of the law.”

Small insisted she never knew she was pregnant, although Small’s attorney, Joseph D. Morrissey, “said she had scheduled a doctor’s appointment four days before giving birth for a pregnancy test,” Bowles reported. “The clinic couldn’t see her on that date so the appointment was rescheduled for the following Monday, two days after Small gave birth.”

In a statement to police, Small said she pushed for about 15 minutes until the baby was born, but then panicked and didn’t know what to do, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Lisa Caruso.

“When deputies arrived, the baby was still attached to the mother,” Bowles reported “An autopsy revealed the baby was born alive but drowned in the toilet. Medical examiners found water in the child’s lungs and stomach.”

The tragedy began last September when deputies responded to a medical emergency call. The baby, whom authorities named Baby Grace Small, was found dead, lying in the water in the toilet, still attached to Ms. Small by the umbilical cord.

Four days later Small was charged with first-degree murder.

The baby’s grandmother, Angela Small, initially was also charged with first degree murder for not trying to save the baby.

“But defense attorney Joseph D. Morrissey said she did nothing more than come to her daughter’s aid and comfort, “ according to Bowles. “In a police statement, Angela Small told an emergency communications officer on the line that she was unable to scoop the baby from the toilet while simultaneously caring for her daughter, who had just given birth.”

Angela Small died suddenly, of an apparent heart attack, last November.

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