By Dave Andrusko
It was only a matter of time. Once attempted first-degree murder charges against Anna Yocca, who tried to self-abort her 24-week-old unborn baby using a coathanger last September, were reduced to aggravated assault, it was predictable that her lawyers would eventually file to dismiss all charges.
And that, according to News Channel 5’s Nick Beres is exactly what has happened.
Beres writes “a judge was expected to decide if the prosecution continues after hearing arguments on the defense motion” today.
Sam Stockard of the Murfreesboro Post previously reported what happened last September:
Even though the baby survived the trauma [weighing 1.5 pounds], physicians said the boy’s quality of life “will be forever harmed.” He will need a medically-experienced foster parent, remain on oxygen and take medication daily because of problems with his eyes, lungs and heart stemming from damage caused by the coat hanger. Medical staff also said other physical problems will arise when the child grows older.
Yocca reportedly filled a bathtub with a few inches of water, then used a coat hanger to repeatedly stab her baby. “That’s when officials said the amount of blood alarmed her, and her boyfriend took her to the emergency room at St. Thomas Rutherford hospital. “From there, she was transported to St. Thomas Mid-Town in Nashville where staff members saved ‘Baby Yocca,’” Stockard reported.
”The whole time she was concerned for her health, her safety and never gave any attention to the health and safety to the unborn child,” Sergeant Kyle Evans told reporters in December.
According to Detective Tommy Roberts, the nurses and doctors he interviewed indicated Yocca made “disturbing statements” about the baby and wanting to terminate her pregnancy with the coat hanger at about 24 weeks,” according to Stockard.
As we reported in March Public Defender Gerald Melton, who was representing the 32-year-old Yocca, filed a motion in Circuit Court to dismiss the attempted first-degree murder charge against Yocca, contending state law doesn’t apply to the charge in her case. Circuit Court Judge Royce Taylor took the request under advisement and Assistant District Attorney Hugh Ammerman, who is prosecuting the charge, opted not to oppose the motion, according to Melton.
Some have questioned Yocca’s mental competency to stand trial, but NewsChannel 5 has learned a psychological evaluation found “there is no indication that Ms. Yocca failed to have sufficient reality contact in regard to the nature and wrongfulness of her accused behavior.”
In other words, she wasn’t crazy.
NewsChannel 5 legal analyst Nick Leonardo said there are options other than claiming insanity.
“Obviously she is going to have some sort of defense,” said Leonardo.
That defense, according to Peres, will be that failing to dismiss the assault charge “makes every pregnant woman vulnerable to arrest and prosecution if she is perceived to have caused or even risked harm to a human embryo or fetus… and that the prosecution is absurd, illogical and unconstitutional.”