By Dave Andrusko
After a four day trial, a St. Louis County woman was convicted Friday of second-degree involuntary manslaughter and two counts of second-degree misdemeanor child endangerment in the deaths of hers newborn twins, a boy and girl, in January 2020. The prosecution had pushed for stronger charges, recommending that Maya Caston, the mother of four other children, be found guility of two counts of second-degree murder. The babies were not fed washed or given medical care to allow them to breathe properly before their deaths.
“She testified she attempted to hide her pregnancy for months and did not know she was pregnant with twins. She gave birth to the infants on a toilet, wrapped them in towels and placed them in her bed,” Erin Heffernan reported for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do,” she told the jury.
Caston initially told police the twins were stillborn but later said that was not true. “Prosecutors argued that Caston’s extensive internet searches for miscarriages and abortion methods in the months before she gave birth, her initial lie to police and her lack of action to get care for the twins proved she caused the deaths,” according to Heffernan.
Psychologist Dr. Brooke Kraushaar testified for nearly a day on Caston’s behalf. “She argued Caston is incapable of living independently or understanding how to care for a child,” according to the Associated Press. “She testified Caston relied on others to care for her older children and was easily swayed in police questioning.”
“Caston said she planned to give the babies up for adoption at a doctor’s appointment three days after the births, but by then, the unnamed infants hadn’t eaten and were dead,” Heffernan reported. “She called a hospital and then 911 to report they had been stillborn but later admitted under questioning that was not true.”
Caston testified she was scared of being kicked out of the home”where she was living with the man who fathered the twins and two of her four older children. The home was rented by the man’s mother, who also lived there.”
Caston told the jury “that after she gave birth, she wrapped the babies up and tried to feed them milk, but they wouldn’t accept it. She said they never cried,” the Associated Press reported.
“I didn’t let them die,” she said, growing emotional on the stand. “I tried to feed them and keep them warm.”
In closing arguments, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Dittmeier said “We have two dead babies. She didn’t want them. She didn’t care for them. She didn’t even give them a name.”